Addiction as a disorder of belief

Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):337-355 (2014)
Authors
Neil Levy
Oxford University
Abstract
Addiction is almost universally held to be characterized by a loss of control over drug-seeking and consuming behavior. But the actions of addicts, even of those who seem to want to abstain from drugs, seem to be guided by reasons. In this paper, I argue that we can explain this fact, consistent with continuing to maintain that addiction involves a loss of control, by understanding addiction as involving an oscillation between conflicting judgments. I argue that the dysfunction of the mesolimbic dopamine system that typifies addictions causes the generation of a mismatch between the top-down model of the world that reflects the judgment that the addict ought to refrain from drugs, and bottom-up input caused by cues predictive of drug availability. This constitutes a powerful pressure toward revising the judgment and thereby attenuating the prediction error. But the new model is not stable, and shifts under the pressure of bottom-up inputs in different contexts; hence the oscillation of all-things-considered judgment. Evidence from social psychology is adduced, to suggest that a similar process may be involved in ordinary cases of weakness of will
Keywords Addiction  Prediction errors  Mesolimbic dopamine system  Belief
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-014-9434-2
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References found in this work BETA

Monothematic Delusions: Towards a Two-Factor Account.Martin Davies, Max Coltheart, Robyn Langdon & N. Breen - 2001 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 8 (2-3):133-58.
Breakdown of Will.George Ainslie - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.

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