This chapter provides the philosophical background of the normative practice approach (NPA) and locates this approach within the broader field of value-sensitive approaches to psychiatry.

In the first part, I delve somewhat deeper into the systematic philosophy of Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd. His work has been important for the initial formulations of the NPA. I draw on Dooyeweerd’s idea that norms are intrinsic, i.e., structurally given, and make use of some of his distinctions between types of norm and principle. I place Dooyeweerd’s work in the context of other appropriations of his work.

I then focus on other philosophical approaches of the normativity of professional practices, especially Alasdair MacIntyre’s defense of virtue ethics and virtue-ethical approaches to professionalism; Charles Taylor’s idea that goods are not arbitrary options, but formative for who we are in the different practices that constitute our lives; and Ricoeur’s suggestion that moral authenticity and trustworthiness require attunement between a particular practice and who we are as persons. The NPA builds forth on MacIntryre’s idea that goods (or norms) are “internal to practices.” It adopts Taylor’s idea that goods are not products of arbitrary choices. It also acknowledges the implicit reflexivity of normative practices, as outlined in the work of Ricoeur.