Classification of Psychopathology: Goals and Methods in an Empirical Approach

G. Scott Acton
Northwestern University

Author Note


This article aims to dismantle the philosophical and methodological assumptions underlying the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Exception is taken to the operationism that underwrites the DSM's categorical approach, and a new centrality is envisaged for fuzzy sets in psychodiagnosis. The present criticisms of the DSM clear the way for a new understanding of the classification enterprise, one that embraces realism as a goal, fallibilism as a method, and dimensions as a (perhaps yet-to-be-realized) empirical finding.