Addiction, recovery and moral agency: Philosophical considerations

Susanne Uusitalo

Abstract


Uusitalo, S. (2015). Addiction, recovery and moral agency: Philosophical considerations. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, X(Y), N-M. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.7895/ijadr.vXiY.190 

Aims: The purpose of this paper is to argue that it is important to recognize that addicts are morally accountable even for their addictive action, as moral agency is more generally an important factor in full-blown human agency. The challenge is to identify the problems that addicts have in their agency without discarding their potentially full-blown agency.

Design: In philosophy of agency, moral responsibility and accountability, in particular, may refer to control over one’s action. I discuss this control as reason-responsiveness and, on a more general level, illustrate the importance of moral agency to human agency with a contrasting example of psychopaths and addicts as agents.

Measures: A philosophical analysis is carried out in order to argue for the relevance and importance of moral accountability in therapeutic models of addiction.

Findings: The example of psychopaths and addicts illustrates that moral agency is part of full-blown human agency, as psychopaths are generally believed to lack moral skills common to non-psychopathic individuals. I argue that addicts are not analogous to psychopaths in the framework of moral agency in this respect.

Conclusions: By fleshing out the conceptual considerations in the framework of addiction therapies, I clarify the relevance and importance of moral accountability in therapeutic models of addiction. If evidence-based therapies attempt to restore the addict’s full-fledged agency at least in respect to addiction, then acknowledging addicts’ moral accountability for their action does matter.


Keywords


addiction, action, moral responsibility, moral accountability

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7895/ijadr.v4i1.190

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