2022 Abstracts Stage 3

Mental Health Development and the Problematic Debate Surrounding it

Megan Kennedy, 2022, Stage 3

Public health is widely regarded as one of the most important societal and medical objectives, yet what constitutes health? While on the surface this may appear to be a simple question with a straightforward response, there is no universal consensus. Considering there is no universal accepted definition of health, how does health manifest itself in reality?
Recent years have seen an increase of awareness being paid to mental health, and it appears reasonable to conclude that this will result in positive outcomes. Although this may be true, this paper contends debates on mental health development are unlikely to produce solutions. This is due to the fact that most western societies adhere to a doctrine of morality known as emotivism.
As a first step, it is necessary to provide a brief overview of two definitions of health. Since there is no universal consensus on the definition of health, this becomes problematic in the mental health debate. Referencing MacIntyre, the second section of this paper will argue that the existing moral language has been fragmented and essentially lost, thereby rendering moral claims arbitrary in nature. The notion of human flourishing will be discussed in the middle of the paper in order to develop, not only debates on mental health but, the mental health of the collective. Next, it will challenge thinkers like Kant, Hume, and Pascal who reject the teleological aspect of human nature. Additionally, this paper presents MacIntyre’s reformulation of Aristotle’s notion of human flourishing in modern terms, introducing three aspects, namely, the concept of practice, the narrative unity of human life, and a living tradition.

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