This chapter presents an integrated, moral-therapeutic perspective on alcoholism. Beginning in the mid-1930s, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) invigorated the therapeutic trend by convincing health professionals and the American public that alcoholism is a disease rather than a morally bad habit. In contrast, it is argued that alcoholism is both a sickness and a morally bad habit. It is a disorder of agency that has physical, psychological, and moral dimensions. The chapter concludes that beneath the disagreements about alcoholism, there is agreement on many key points: alcoholism raises major medical and moral issues; alcoholism is not dictated by a simple biochemical abnormality; most alcoholics retain significant episodic control; most have difficulty (in varying degrees) in controlling their overall patterns of drinking and need help; drinkers have responsibility to avoid causing harm, to cooperate in solving their drinking problems, and to make amends for the harm they cause; and self-righteous blaming and destructive self-blaming are objectionable on both moral and therapeutic grounds. These conclusions provide a partial roadmap for thinking about additional forms of wrongdoing as sickness.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.