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Addiction and Responsibility$
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Jeffrey Poland and George Graham

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015509

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015509.001.0001

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Lowering the Bar for Addicts

Lowering the Bar for Addicts

(p.113) 5 Lowering the Bar for Addicts
Addiction and Responsibility

Gideon Yaffe

The MIT Press

This chapter explores the common argument regarding addiction and responsibility. There are people who believe that addiction is a disease, and that addicts cannot therefore be held responsible for wrongdoing or acting badly. On the other hand, there are those who claim that it is a matter of personal responsibility, and that the difference between wrongdoing by addicts and by nonaddicts is therefore merely cosmetic. In this chapter, a third possibility is presented that lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes; an overlooked possibility which can lead to the truth. One of the main reasons this third possibility is not preferred over the all-or-nothing position is that it raises certain troublesome questions. The two main questions are thus: If addicts are not to be excused entirely, what should they be held responsible for? If addicts are to be given a “break,” what should they not be held responsible for?

Keywords:   addiction, responsibility, all or nothing, disease, personal responsibility

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