Diachronic and Externally-Scaffolded Self-Control in Addiction

Manuscrito 46 (1):77-116 (2023)
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A restrictive view of self-control identifies exercises of self-control with synchronic intrapsychic processes, and pictures diachronic and externally-scaffolded strategies not as proper instances of self-control, but as clever ways of avoiding the need to exercise that ability. In turn, defenders of an inclusive view of self-control typically argue that we should construe self-control as more than effortful inhibition, and that, on grounds of functional equivalence, all these diverse strategies might be properly described as instances of self-control. In this paper, I take a fresh look at this debate by focusing on cases of addiction. I argue that addicted agents face a paradigmatic sort of self-control challenge, which makes addiction an important test case for theories of self-control. And I discuss evidence that highlights both the unreliability of synchronic intrapsychic strategies and the crucial role that is played by diachronic and externally-scaffolded strategies in successful attempts at achieving abstinence by addicted individuals. Abstaining addicts are a paradigmatic case of agents who successfully exercise self-control, and they mostly do so by relying on diachronic and externally-scaffolded strategies. This, I argue, lends further support to an inclusive view of self-control.

Author's Profile

Federico Burdman
Universidad Alberto Hurtado


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