That old mind-body problem

Sallie Mae offers various savings/insurance programs for the education of one’s children.  According to the NY Times:

… earlier this month, it added a curious product known as tuition refund insurance, which can make you whole if an ill child must withdraw from college sometime during the term.

The insurance, which Sallie offers in partnership with Next Generation Insurance Group, a company it recently bought a stake in, doesn’t treat all sickness equally, though. If a student withdraws because of a physical illness or injury, a family gets 100 percent of its money back. People who leave because of mental health problems, however, get only 75 percent back.

So mental illness is less real and mentally ill students are less worthy.  It is hard to believe this is actually going on. 

It might also be good to  take a critical reasoning class through such an example.  There’s a switch from the mind as higher than the body to the mind’s illnesses being less worthy that is should not be  completely obvious to students however familiar the move is.

4 thoughts on “That old mind-body problem

  1. This seems to me of a piece with the also appalling but apparently quite widespread policy of insurance not covering mental health treatment.

  2. I think it’d be good to take a critical reasoning class through your inference:

    “If an insurance company provides less compensation via tuition refund insurance for mental illness than it does for physical illness or injury, then mental illness is less real (than physical illness or injury) and mentally ill students are less worthy (than students with physical illnesses or injuries).”

    I’m not entirely sure what ‘real’ and ‘worthy’ mean in the consequent, but I’m pretty sure that on any plausible reading of either of the terms, your inference is tenuous and unsupported at best.

  3. C, in fact what you are focused on is a conditional statement and not an inference. In addition, no such argument was given. Rather, an interpretation of a very specific policy was given. The argument would have been general, while the interpretation should be understood to be specific and to depend on specifics about the case. That means we can fill in what would be gaps in an argument with appeals to the history of how mental illness is dealt with, along with the history of how the mind is conceived. We can also consider general views about students.

    Still, perhaps you know of some reason for treating mentally ill students different that does not depend on seeing them as in some way inferiro – e.g., lack self discipline, inclined to lie, etc, etc. That would be really interesting to hear about.

  4. C, we’ve taken taken down your most recent comment, as it conflicts with our comments policy (scroll up and click on ‘Our Policies’ if you don’t know what these are). If you’d like to repost the substantial points that you made in a more constructive way, that would be great. If not, that’s fine too. But any comments you post that are similar in tone to the one we’ve just taken down will – unsurprisingly – also be taken down.

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