Reactive attitudes, relationships, and addiction

In S. Ahmed & Hanna Pickard (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Science of Addiction. London, UK: Routledge (forthcoming)
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In this chapter we focus on the structure of close personal relations and diagnose how these relationships are disrupted by addiction. We draw upon Peter Strawson’s landmark paper ‘Freedom and Resentment’ (2008, first published 1962) to argue that loved ones of those with addiction veer between, (1) reactive attitudes of blame and resentment generated by disappointed expectations of goodwill and reciprocity, and (2) the detached objective stance from which the addicted person is seen as less blameworthy but also as less fit for ordinary interpersonal relationships. We examine how these responses, in turn, shape the addicted person’s view of themselves, their character and their capacities, and provide a negative narrative trajectory that impedes recovery. We close with a consideration of how these effects might be mitigated by adopting less demanding variations of the participant stance.

Author Profiles

Jeanette Kennett
Macquarie University
Doug McConnell
Macquarie University


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