Title of Work
'Effective' at What? On Effective Intervention in Serious Mental Illness
City of Publication or Presentation
Health Care Analysis
The term “effective,” on its own, is honorific but vague. Interventions against serious mental illness may be “effective” at goals as diverse as reducing “apparent sadness” or providing housing. Among practitioners in the many scientific, professional, and policy fields judging effectiveness—and among those affected by serious mental illness—underdetermined use of “effective” and other success terms often obfuscates differences and incompatibilities in approaches, degrees of effectiveness, and values involved in determining what counts as “effective.” Yet vague use of such success terms is common in the research, clinical, and policy realms, with consequences that negatively affect the care offered to individuals experiencing serious mental illness. A Pragmatist-oriented solution to these problems suggests that when people use success terms, they need explain and defend the goals and supporting values embedded in the terms, asking and answering the questions, “Effective at what? For whom? How effective? And why that goal?” Practical and epistemic standards for effectiveness will likely remain plural for good reasons, but each standard should be well explained and well justified.
Link to URL of accompanying or supplemental material
Hawthorne, Susan C. C. and Williams-Wengerd, Anne, "'Effective' at What? On Effective Intervention in Serious Mental Illness" (2019). Philosophy Faculty Scholarship. 9.