Addiction and Responsibility

Addiction and Responsibility

Jeffrey Poland and George Graham

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780262015509

Publisher: The MIT Press


Addictive behavior threatens not just the addict’s happiness and health but also the welfare and well-being of others. It represents a loss of self-control and a variety of other cognitive impairments and behavioral deficits. An addict may say, “I couldn’t help myself.” But questions arise: Are we responsible for our addictions? What responsibilities do others have to help us? This book offers a range of perspectives on addiction and responsibility, and how the two are bound together. Contributors—from theorists to clinicians, from neuroscientists and psychologists to philosophers and legal scholars—discuss these questions using a variety of conceptual and investigative tools. Some offer models of addiction-related phenomena, including theories of incentive sensitization, ego-depletion, and pathological affect; others address such traditional philosophical questions as free will and agency, mind–body, and other minds. Two chapters, written by scholars who were themselves addicts, attempt to integrate first-person phenomenological accounts with the third-person perspective of the sciences. Contributors distinguish among moral responsibility, legal responsibility, and the ethical responsibility of clinicians and researchers. Taken together, the chapters offer the argument that we cannot fully understand addiction if we do not also understand responsibility.