Addiction as a Disorder of Self-Control

In Hanna Pickard & Serge Ahmed (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Science of Addiction. Routledge (2019)
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Impairment of self-control is often said to be a defining feature of addiction. Yet many addicts display what appears to be a considerable amount of control over their drug-oriented actions. Not only are their actions clearly intentional and frequently carried out in a conscious and deliberate manner, there is evidence that many addicts are responsive to a wide range of ordinary incentives and counter-incentives. Moreover, addicts have a wide variety of reasons for using drugs, reasons which often seem to go a long way towards explaining their drug-oriented behavior. Many use drugs, for example, to cope with stressful or traumatic experiences. In this article I argue that some standard philosophical explanations of addicts’ impairment of self-control are inadequate, and propose an alternative.

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Edmund Henden
Oslo Metropolitan University


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