Disordered Appetites: Addiction, Compulsion, and Dependence
This chapter develops a conception of addiction as an acquired appetite. On this account, addictions are continuous with our general vulnerabilities as appetitive creatures; vulnerabilities to various sorts of practical irrationalities of judgment and intention in the face of the ‘temptations’ of food, sex, and drink. Like other appetites, addictions can diminish our autonomy to various degrees. In extreme cases, we speak of compulsion, but this is not usefully understood as the operation of literally irresistible desires. Compulsion is best construed not as a literally irresistible force, but as a phenomenon in which our agency is both compromised and complicit. This susceptibility is not necessarily to be regretted, for much of what we value is deeply shaped by it. Addictions are to be deplored, when they are, not just because of their effects on our autonomy but because of the unworthiness of addictive attachments.
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