Addiction and Responsibility

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MIT Press, 2011 - Philosophy - 306 pages
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The intertwining of addiction and responsibility in personal, philosophical, legal, research, and clinical contexts.

Addictive behavior threatens not just the addict's happiness and health but also the welfare and well-being of others. It represents a loss of self-control and a variety of other cognitive impairments and behavioral deficits. An addict may say, "I couldn't help myself." But questions arise: are we responsible for our addictions? And what responsibilities do others have to help us? This volume offers a range of perspectives on addiction and responsibility and how the two are bound together. Distinguished contributors -- from theorists to clinicians, from neuroscientists and psychologists to philosophers and legal scholars -- discuss these questions in essays using a variety of conceptual and investigative tools.

Some contributors offer models of addiction-related phenomena, including theories of incentive sensitization, ego-depletion, and pathological affect; others address such traditional philosophical questions as free will and agency, mind-body, and other minds. Two essays, written by scholars who were themselves addicts, attempt to integrate first-person phenomenological accounts with the third-person perspective of the sciences. Contributors distinguish among moral responsibility, legal responsibility, and the ethical responsibility of clinicians and researchers. Taken together, the essays offer a forceful argument that we cannot fully understand addiction if we do not also understand responsibility.


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1 Introduction
2 Drug Addiction as Incentive Sensitization
3 Free Will as Recursive SelfPrediction
4 Addiction Responsibility and Ego Depletion
5 Lowering the Bar for Addicts
6 DecisionMaking Capacity and Responsibility in Addiction
7 Addiction and Criminal Responsibility
8 Grounding for Understanding SelfInjury as Addiction or Bad Habit
9 Contingency Management Treatments of Drug and Alcohol Use Disorders
10 Addiction Paradox and the Good I Would
11 What Is It Like to Be an Addict?
About the Authors

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About the author (2011)

Jeffrey Poland teaches in the Department of History, Philosophy, and Social Science at Rhode Island School of Design and in the Science and Society Program at Brown University.