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Matthias Michel (NYU)

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Montreal welcomes Matthias Michel (NYU) for a lecture titled “Dérives de validité dans la recherche psychiatrique”.

Friday, November 10, 4pm – 6pm, room 422, 2910 Édouard-Montpetit, Montreal.


Psychiatric research is in crisis due to repeated failures in discovering new drugs for mental disorders. The lack of validity in measurements may partially explain these failures. If researchers are not genuinely measuring the effects of drugs on the disorders they aim to study, unsatisfactory therapeutic results can be expected. I argue that this is the case, focusing on depression and fear and anxiety disorders. In doing so, I illustrate how psychiatric research showcases a more general phenomenon I term “validity drift”. A validity drift occurs when, during the development of new measurement procedures, researchers end up studying a phenomenon different from the one they initially intended to investigate. I analyze the various ways scientists attempt to validate measurement procedures for mental disorders to test drugs on animal models. I demonstrate how these validation efforts can fail, leading to validity drifts. Overall, this analysis highlights the intricate interplay between the development of new measurement procedures, their calibration, and the scientific theories of the targeted phenomena.