Addictive actions

Philosophical Psychology 26 (3):362-382 (2013)
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Abstract

It is common to think of addiction as involving behavior which in some sense is ?out of control.? But does this mean addictive actions occur because of compulsion or because of ordinary weakness of will? Many philosophers argue that addictive actions occur because of weakness of will, since there is plenty of evidence suggesting that they are not caused by irresistible desires. In fact, addicts seem, in general, to perform these actions freely in the sense of having the ability to refrain from doing so. In this paper I argue, first, that it is not the addiction-as-compulsion view that is mistaken, but rather the view that irresistible desires are a defining feature of compulsion. Second, drawing on some results in addiction neuroscience, I construct and defend a new analysis of compulsivity that distinguishes addictive from weak-willed actions in a way that is consistent with the view that addictive actions are performed freely

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Edmund Henden
Oslo Metropolitan University

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