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Addiction and ChoiceRethinking the relationship$
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Nick Heather and Gabriel Segal

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198727224

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198727224.001.0001

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Addiction as a form of akrasia

Addiction as a form of akrasia

(p.133) Chapter 8 Addiction as a form of akrasia
Addiction and Choice

Nick Heather

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that addiction can usefully be seen as a form of akrasia, an ancient philosophical concept referring to acting against one’s better judgment. Ordinary akrasia and addiction can be located at extremes on a continuum of frequency of akratic actions. Four criteria essential to “core akratic action” also apply to addiction—that it must be: (1) free; (2) intentional; (3) contrary to the agent’s better judgment based on practical reasoning; (4) consciously recognized as contrary to better judgment at the time of action. The chapter concludes by briefly describing four lines of current theory and research on addiction with parallels to philosophical accounts of akrasia: (1) behavioral economic theories; (2) dual-process cognitive theory; (3) “willpower” and ego depletion; and (4) neuroscientific research on deficits to self-regulation. Finding ways these lines of enquiry can converge is an exciting task for theory and research on addiction.

Keywords:   addiction, akrasia, philosophical concept, research, theory, willpower, ego depletion

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