Towards a dispositionalist (and unifying) account of addiction

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 44 (1):21-40 (2023)
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Addiction theorists have often utilized the metaphor of the blind men and the elephant to illustrate the complex nature of addiction and the varied methodological approaches to studying it. A common purported upshot is skeptical in nature: due to these complexities, it is not possible to offer a unifying account of addiction. I think that this is a mistake. The elephant is real–there is a _there_ there. Here, I defend a dispositionalist account of addiction as _the systematic disposition to fail to control one’s desires to engage in certain types of behaviors_. I explain this position, defend the inclusion of desires and impaired control, and flesh out the notion of _systematicity_ central to my account. I then illustrate how my dispositionalist framework can unify the disparate and seemingly incompatible accounts of addiction (and their respective methodological approaches). I close with a brief plan to extend and implement my account.

Author's Profile

Robert M. Kelly
Bakersfield College


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