David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 11 (3) (1990)
Herbert Fingarette  argues that alcoholism is not a disease and that the alleged alcoholic under certain circumstances has the power to control his or her drinking disorders. I shall analyze Fingarette's argument and show that his position rests on some logical and conceptual confusions.In analyzing Fingarette's argument for the self-control theory of drinking disorders I conclude that it is problematic for the following reasons: (1) his argument assumes that the identification of a single cause of alcoholism is a necessary condition of its being a disease; (2) unless it is already assumed (a priori) that persons with drinking disorders possess freedom and self-control to the extent that Fingarette assumes they do, then such persons are likely to suffer from apathy or defeatism regarding their condition; (3) even if Fingarette is correct in his criticism of certain health care programs for those with drinking disorders, it does not follow from this that certain theories about the possible causes of such disorders are false; (4) Fingarette's claim that those with drinking disorders are morally responsible for their actions that result from their disorders is problematic, that is, unless it can be shown that such persons act freely; and (5) Fingarette attempts to support the self-control theory of alcoholism by refuting a straw man conception of the disease model of alcoholism.
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