【Online lecture series】Prof. Alexandre Erler_The role of authenticity in the context of mental disorder: distinguishing conceptual from practical considerations

Online lecture series on ‘Self-illness ambiguity’

Prof. Alexandre Erler: “The role of authenticity in the context of mental disorder: distinguishing conceptual from practical considerations”


In 2014, Tony Hope & I argued that a conception of authenticity involving the appeal to the idea of a “true self” was more congenial to many people struggling with mental disorders than autonomy-oriented accounts of authenticity, such as those proposed by Harry Frankfurt or David DeGrazia. Our analysis has since generated some discussion and criticisms. This talk will critically re-examine the arguments we put forward, with a view to clarifying the issues and helping advance the debate.

I will argue that an underemphasized element in our initial analysis was the distinction between conceptual and practical considerations pertaining to appeals to authenticity in the context of mental disorder. While we did hint (I believe correctly) at the need for a pluralistic approach to authenticity at the theoretical level, I will acknowledge that such a conclusion calls for a different justification than the practical benefits we highlighted for patients with mental disorder. I will also stress the need for a case-by-case assessment of the most helpful approach to authenticity in this context, whether the goal be to best describe or guide patients’ reasoning around their illness. Finally, I will consider whether the opposition between “true self” and autonomy-oriented accounts of authenticity can be reduced to a purely verbal dispute, or whether it has more substance (and perhaps even significant practical implications).

Practical details and registration:

Prof. Erler will present his ideas on March 9th, 10am – 11.30am CET (5pm – 6.30pm CST). Please register via the following Zoom link:


Further program of the online lecture series:·

March 30th (3pm – 4.30pm CET / 2pm – 3.30pm BST) Ilina Singh (Psychiatry, University of Oxford, UK): Moral Politics of Inattention: Adventures in LaLa Land·

May 11th (3.30pm – 5pm CET) Sofia Jeppsson (Philosophy, Umeå University, Sweden): Drawing the line: Tentative reasons for a narrower or wider self conception·

June 29th (10am – 11.30 am CET / 6pm – 7.30pm AEST) Doug McConnell (Philosophy, Macquarie University Australia) and Anna Golova (Philosophy, University of Oxford, UK): Narrative, addiction, and three aspects of self-ambiguity


Roy Dings (Ruhr University Bochum)

Sanneke de Haan (Tilburg University + Erasmus University Rotterdam)