Addiction and Responsibility

From Philosophical Psychopathology

Addiction and Responsibility

Edited by Jeffrey Poland and George Graham

The intertwining of addiction and responsibility in personal, philosophical, legal, research, and clinical contexts.





The intertwining of addiction and responsibility in personal, philosophical, legal, research, and clinical contexts.

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? And what responsibilities do others have to help us? This volume offers a range of perspectives on addiction and responsibility and how the two are bound together. Distinguished contributors—from theorists to clinicians, from neuroscientists and psychologists to philosophers and legal scholars—discuss these questions in essays using a variety of conceptual and investigative tools.

Some contributors 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 essays, 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 essays offer a forceful argument that we cannot fully understand addiction if we do not also understand responsibility.


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262015509 320 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 9 halftones


Jeffrey Poland

Jeffrey Poland is Visiting Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Brown University and a Senior Lecturer in History, Philosophy, and Social Science at Rhode Island School of Design. He is the coeditor of Addiction and Responsibility (MIT Press).

George Graham

George Graham is a Professor of Philosophy and Neuroscience at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.


  • A very useful collection of papers that combine empirical, theoretical, clinical, and philosophical analyses in a sophisticated way to address the complex and important topic of responsibility and addiction.

    Harold Kincaid

    Professor of Philosophy, Sociology, and Epidemiology, and Director, Center for Ethics and Values in the Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • Addiction and Responsibility takes debates about the philosophical significance of addiction to a new level. It is a model of interdisciplinary cooperation, as psychologists and philosophers offer their own perspectives and illuminate each others'. The book should be read by all philosophers who want to understand some of the real-life issues that matter to our attributions of responsibility, and is an important addition to the growing literature in philosophy of psychiatry as well.

    Dominic Murphy

    Senior Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Sydney