How should addictive behavior be explained? In terms of neurobiological illness and compulsion, or as a choice made freely, even rationally, in the face of harmful social or psychological circumstances? Some of the disagreement between proponents of the prevailing medical models and choice models in the science of addiction centres on the notion of “loss of control” as a normative characterization of addiction. In this article I examine two of the standard interpretations of loss of control in addiction, one (...) according to which addicts have lost free will, the other according to which their will is weak. I argue that both interpretations are mistaken and propose therefore an alternative based on a dual-process approach. This alternative neither rules out a capacity in addicts to rationally choose to engage in drug-oriented behavior, nor the possibility that addictive behavior can be compulsive and depend upon harmful changes in their brains caused by the regular use of drugs. (shrink)
Experimental philosophers have recently begun to investigate the folk conception of weakness of will (e.g., Mele in Philos Stud 150:391–404, 2010; May and Holton in Philos Stud 157:341–360, 2012; Beebe forthcoming; Sousa and Mauro forthcoming). Their work has focused primarily on the ways in which akrasia (i.e., acting contrary to one’s better judgment), unreasonable violations of resolutions, and variations in the moral valence of actions modulate folk attributions of weakness of will. A key finding that has emerged from this research (...) is that—contrary to the predominant view in the history of philosophy—ordinary participants do not think of weakness of will solely in terms of akrasia but see resolution violations and moral evaluations as playing equally important roles. The present article extends this line of research by reporting the results of four experiments that investigate (i) the interplay between hastily revising one’s resolutions and the degree of reasonableness of the actions one had resolved to undertake, (ii) whether ordinary participants are willing to ascribe weakness of will to agents whose actions stem from compulsion or addiction, and (iii) the respects in which akratic action, resolution violations, and the seriousness of an addiction impact attributions of weakness of will to agents acting in accord with their addictions. (shrink)
This paper sets out and defends an account of free action and explores the relation between free action and moral responsibility. Free action is analyzed as a certain kind of uncompelled action. The notion of compulsion is explicated in detail, And several forms of compulsion are distinguished and compared. It is argued that contrary to what is usually supposed, A person may be morally responsible for doing something even if he did not do it freely. On the basis (...) of the account of free action, It is also argued that freedom and determinism are compatible and that, Though a person is morally responsible for doing something only if he could have done otherwise, Determinism does not entail that no one ever can, In the relevant sense, Do otherwise. The concluding part of the paper suggests that, If the account of the relation between free action and moral responsibility is correct, Then the class of actions for which we bear moral responsibility is significantly wider than a great many people suppose. (shrink)
I show that Pickard’s argument against the irresistibility of addiction fails because her proposed dilemma, according to which either drug-seeking does not count as action or addiction is resistible, is flawed; and that is the case whether or not one endorses Pickard’s controversial definition of action. Briefly, we can easily imagine cases in which drug-seeking meets Pickard’s conditions for agency without thereby implying that the addiction was not irresistible, as when the drug addict may take more than one route to (...) go meet her dealer. (shrink)
Normative thinking about addiction has traditionally been divided between, on the one hand, a medical model which sees addiction as a disease characterized by compulsive and relapsing drug use over which the addict has little or no control and, on the other, a moral model which sees addiction as a choice characterized by voluntary behaviour under the control of the addict. Proponents of the former appeal to evidence showing that regular consumption of drugs causes persistent changes in the brain structures (...) and functions known to be involved in the motivation of behavior. On this evidence, it is often concluded that becoming addicted involves a transition from voluntary, chosen drug use to non-voluntary compulsive drug use. Against this view, proponents of the moral model provide ample evidence that addictive drug use involves voluntary chosen behaviour. In this paper we argue that although they are right about something, both views are mistaken. We present a third model that neither rules out the view of addictive drug use as compulsive, nor that it involves voluntary chosen behavior. -/- . (shrink)
What is an inference? Logicians and philosophers have proposed various conceptions of inference. I shall first highlight seven features that contribute to distinguish these conceptions. I shall then compare three conceptions to see which of them best explains the special force that compels us to accept the conclusion of an inference, if we accept its premises.
The standard paradigm for mental causation is a person’s acting for a reason. Something happens - she intentionally φ’s - the occurrence of which we explain by citing a relevant belief or desire. In the present context, I simply take for granted the following two conditions on the appropriateness of this explanation. First, the agent φ’s _because_ she believes/desires what we say she does, where this is expressive of a _causal_ dependence.1 Second, her believing/desiring this gives her a _reason_ for (...) φ-ing: recognizing that she has this belief/desire makes her φ-ing intelligible as rational in the light of her other attitudes and circumstances. A further condition must be met, though, if this is to be a genuine psychological explanation, a case of her acting _for_ the reason in question. Consider the following example of Davidson’s (1973, p. 79). An exhausted climber is desperate to rid herself of the weight and danger of holding her partner on a rope; and her sudden realization that simply letting go would achieve this so unnerves her that her grip loosens slightly and he falls. Her releasing him causally depends upon her having this belief and desire, which provide _a_ reason for doing what she does. But this is not _why_ she does it: it would be at best misleading to say that she dropped him, intentionally, because she was fed up with holding his weight, or because she thought that she might otherwise fall. Her letting go does not depend upon her having these reasons in the right way. The reason-giving relation is causally irrelevant. If we are to explain a person’s acting _for_ a reason, then her doing. (shrink)
Three problems threaten any account of philosophical rule in the Republic. First, Socrates is supposed to show that acting justly is always beneficial, but instead he extols the benefits of having a just soul. He leaves little reason to believe practical justice and psychic justice are connected and thus to believe that philosophers will act justly. In response to this problem, I show that just acts produce just souls. Since philosophers want to have just souls, they will act justly. Second, (...) Socrates’ alleged aim is to demonstrate that justice is beneficial, but philosophers, who have to give up a life of philosophy to rule, actually appear to be harmed by ruling. I explain that, since the founders of the city justly command them to rule, philosophers cannot, in fact, obtain a better life, and so ruling does not harm them. Third, it seems incongruous that philosophers, who should, as just people, jump at the opportunity to rule Kallipolis, must be compelled to rule. I show that Plato carefully constructs an educational system that produces rulers who do not want to rule, since such rulers alone will rule best. (shrink)
Free agency and moral responsibility are incompatible with causal determinism because causal determinism, properly understood, entails that originating conditions beyond the agent's control ultimately compel all human choices and actions. If causal determinism is true, then causal antecedents and laws of nature nomologically necessitate all deliberation, choice and action. If conditions beyond the agent's control ultimately compel the agent's behaviors, then the agent is not free and is not morally responsible. Compatibilists claim that externally compelled acts are not free, but (...) fail to recognize that causally determined acts are, ultimately, externally compelled. (shrink)
This book presents a unique examination of mental illness. Though common to many mental disorders, delusions result in actions that, though perhaps rational to the individual, might seem entirely inappropriate or harmful to others. This book shows how we may better understand delusion by examining the nature of compulsion.
The concept of "terrorism" is problematized and argued to be at one end of a continuum of behavior that can be characterized as "compulsion." This approach to conflict is explained in terms of Transactional Analysis and the inadequacy of compulsion as a means of managing human affairs (politics) is explored in relation to the use of power that it requires, and to the responses it generates. An alternative behavior, based on "turning the other cheek" and Satyagraha (confronting), is (...) advocated in the expectation that it will prove more fruitful in managing conflict and reducing terrorist outrages. (shrink)
Addicts sometimes engage in such spectacularly self-destructive behavior that they seem to act under compulsion. I briefly review the claim that addiction is not compulsive at all. I then consider recent accounts of addiction by Holton and Schroeder, which characterize addiction in terms of abnormally strong motivations. However, this account can only explain the apparent compulsivity of addiction if we assume—contrary to what we know about addicts—that the desires are so strong as to be irresistible. I then consider accounts (...) that invoke the phenomenon of “ego depletion,” according to which a person can resist temptation for a while, but not indefinitely. Implicit in this account is the assumption that addiction-related desires persist long enough to deplete the addict’s willpower. The balance of the paper argues that the persistence of the desire to consume drugs is a significant form of dysfunction in its own right, and that it makes an important and independent contribution to the compulsivity of addiction. I argue that addiction involves dysfunction in a mechanism that normally prevents a person from being tempted to do something that would invite disaster. (shrink)
Lifelong learning is presented as a means for enabling individuals, organisations and nations to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive world. It suggests an extension of opportunity,involving all adults, whatever their interests or experience. There is also, however, a strong sense of expectation, even compulsion, with emphasis given to vocational forms of study and participation.
The intuitive notion of cause carries with it the idea of compulsion. When we learn that the dynamical laws are deterministic, we give this a causal reading and imagine our actions compelled to occur by conditions laid down at the beginning of the universe. Hume famously argued that this idea of compulsion is borrowed from experience and illegitimately projected onto regularities in the world. Exploiting the interventionist analysis of causal relations, together with an insight about the degeneracy of (...) one’s epistemic relations to one’s own actions, I defend a Humean position with regard to the idea of causal compulsion. Although I discuss only compulsion, a similar story could be told about the temporal directedness of causation. (shrink)
One of the distinctions that Plato in the Laws stresses most heavily in his discussion of the proper relation between the individual citizen and the laws of the city is that between persuasion and compulsion. Law, Plato believes, should try to persuade rather than compel the citizens. Near the end of the fourth book of the Laws, the Athenian Stranger, Plato's spokesman in this dialogue, asks whether the lawgiver for their new city of Magnesia should in making laws ‘explain (...) straightaway what must and must not be done, add the threat of a penalty, and turn to another law, without adding a single bit of encouragement or persuasion [παραμυθας δ κα πειθος … ν] to his legislative edicts’ . A few lines later, the Athenian Stranger himself condemns such a procedure as ‘the worse and more savage alternative’ . The better method is for the laws themselves to try to persuade the citizens to act in the manner that they prescribe. And as a means of doing this, Plato proposes attaching preludes to particular laws and to the legal code as a whole: such preludes will supplement the sanctions attached to the laws and will aim at persuading the citizens to act in the way that the laws direct for reasons other than fear of the penalties attached to the law. Such a practice, Plato believes, is an innovation: it is something that no lawgiver has ever thought of doing before . And we have no reason to think that Plato is here excluding his earlier self, e.g. the Plato of the Republic and the Politicus, from this criticism. (shrink)
We are told in Book I (347b-d) of The Republic that good people will not be willing to rule for money or honor. On the contrary, they will have to be coerced, by some compulsion or punishment, to rule. Moreover, in a city full of good men, there will be a competition to see who will be the ones not to rule. So a good or ‘true’ ruler will be one who does not necessarily want to rule. Even stronger: (...) a true ruler will want that he does not rule. We aren’t yet told in Book I who these true leaders are, nor are we told what these true rulers would want to do instead of ruling. Later in the Republic, however, these details are filled in: we are told that the leaders are the philosophers, and that they would much prefer to be living a contemplative life, than ruling cities. Dealing with the Forms alone, in other words, would be preferable to and better than—and would thus make the philosopher happier than—being a leader or a king. Nonetheless, the philosopher will not only be willing to rule, but will see that ruling is compulsory and just (and perhaps compulsory because it’s just). So despite the fact that a philosopher would prefer to not rule, he will do it anyway out of a sort of obligation or compulsion. Yet this explanation of why a philosopher would be willing to rule is prima facie problematic in light of what we are told about justice throughout the rest of the Republic (esp. Books II- IV). Namely, that acting just will result in doing that which is in one’s best interest to do. So, it seems that by ruling, philosophers are not doing what is in their best interest, since what is in their best interest is to live a purely contemplative life, not a political one. Yet leading is nonetheless just. So it seems that, contrary to what Plato claims, justice and self-interest come apart. (shrink)
Markets can often be harsh in compelling people to make unpalatable economic choices any reasonable person would not take under normal conditions. Thus, workers laid off in mid-career accept lower-paid jobs that are beneath their professional experience for want of better alternatives. Economic migrants leave their families and cross borders in search of a livelihood. These are examples of economic compulsion. These economic ripple effects have been virtually ignored in ethical discourse because they are generally accepted to be the (...) very mechanisms that generate the market's much-touted allocative efficiency. Albino Barrera argues that Christian thought on economic security offers an effective framework within which to address the consequences of economic compulsion. (shrink)
One of the distinctions that Plato in the Laws stresses most heavily in his discussion of the proper relation between the individual citizen and the laws of the city is that between persuasion and compulsion. Law, Plato believes, should try to persuade rather than compel the citizens. Near the end of the fourth book of the Laws, the Athenian Stranger, Plato's spokesman in this dialogue, asks whether the lawgiver for their new city of Magnesia should in making laws ‘explain (...) straightaway what must and must not be done, add the threat of a penalty, and turn to another law, without adding a single bit of encouragement or persuasion [παραμυθας δ κα πειθος … ν] to his legislative edicts’. A few lines later, the Athenian Stranger himself condemns such a procedure as ‘the worse and more savage alternative’. The better method is for the laws themselves to try to persuade the citizens to act in the manner that they prescribe. And as a means of doing this, Plato proposes attaching preludes to particular laws and to the legal code as a whole: such preludes will supplement the sanctions attached to the laws and will aim at persuading the citizens to act in the way that the laws direct for reasons other than fear of the penalties attached to the law. Such a practice, Plato believes, is an innovation: it is something that no lawgiver has ever thought of doing before. And we have no reason to think that Plato is here excluding his earlier self, e.g. the Plato of the Republic and the Politicus, from this criticism. (shrink)
The book presents a variety of philosophical and socio-political perspectives related to the relationship between persuasion and compulsion in democracy. It meets the need of the present time, in America and in Europe, to re-read and discuss the basic assumptions of democracy and the role of individual within it in the context of institutional persuasions that can become factual compulsions for other institution and, first of all, individuals.
We ordinarily suppose that there is a difference between having and failing to exercise a rational capacity on the one hand, and lacking a rational capacity altogether on the other. This is crucial for our allocations of responsibility. Someone who has but fails to exercise a capacity is responsible for their failure to exercise their capacity, whereas someone who lacks a capacity altogether is not. However, as Gary Watson pointed out in his seminal essay ’Skepticism about Weakness of Will’, the (...) idea of an unexercised capacity is much more difficult to make sense of than it initially appears. The aim of ’Rational Capacities’ is to provide the needed explication of this idea. (shrink)
We aim to find a middle path between disease models of addiction, and those that treat addictive choices as choices like any other. We develop an account of the disease element by focussing on the idea that dopamine works primarily to lay down dispositional intrinsic desires. Addictive substances artifically boost the dopamine signal, and thereby lay down intrinsic desires for the substances that persist through withdrawal, and in the face of beliefs that they are worthless. The result is cravings that (...) are largely outside the control of the addict. But this does not mean that addicts are bound to act on such cravings, since they typically retain their faculty of self-control. The issue is one of difficulty not impossibility. Controlling an addictive craving is exceedingly demanding. (shrink)
The interaction between intuitions about inference, and the normative constraints that logical principles applied to mechanically-recognizable derivations impose on inference, is explored. These intuitions are evaluated in a clear testcase: informal mathematical proof. It is argued that formal derivations are not the source of our intuitions of validity, and indeed, neither is the semantic recognition of validity, either as construed model-theoretically, or as driven by the subject-matter such inferences are directed towards. Rather, psychologically-engrained inference-packages are the source of our sense (...) of validity. Formal derivations, or the semantic construal of such, are after-the-fact norms imposed on our inference practices. (shrink)
A scientist at Edinburgh University announced in 1994 that he had removed ovaries from, mouse fetuses and transplanted them, to adult mice. The ovaries released eggs, and conceptions occurred. Although this was not the first such attempt with mice, the study attracted attention because the researcher suggested, that fetal to adult ovarian transplants were a theoretical possibility for humans. If aborted, fetuses were used, as egg sources in assisted conception, a new entity would arise: the never-born genetic mother. Using eggs (...) from aborted fetuses for conception would lead to quixotic and novel family ties. Its use would echo surrogate gestational motherhood, in which a child has both a genetic mother who contributed her egg and a gestational mother who contributed her uterus for gestation and childbirth. With fetal egg use, however, the child's genetic mother would be a never-born fetus without sentience or known, physiology. (shrink)
The report from the Organ Donation Taskforce looking at the potential impact of an opt-out system for deceased donor organ donation in the UK, published in November 2008, is probably the most comprehensive and systematic inquiry to date into the issues and considerations which might affect the availability of deceased donor organs for clinical transplantation. By the end of a thorough and transparent process, a clear consensus was reached. The taskforce rejected the idea of an opt-out system. In this article (...) we acknowledge the life saving potential of organ transplants and seek to highlight the difficulties that arise when the issue of organ shortage competes with concerns over choice and authorisation in the context of deceased donor organ donation. (shrink)
If reason is a real causal force,operative in some, but not all ofour cognition and conation, then itought to be possible to tell anaturalistic story that distinguishes themind which is moved byreason from the mind which is movedby forces other than reason.This essay proposes some steps towardthat end. I proceed by showingthat it is possible to reconcile certainemerging psychological ideasabout the causal powers of themind/brain with a venerablephilosophical vision of reason as the facultyof norms. My accountof reason is psychologistic, social, (...) and consistent with anevolutionary approach to mind. The account preserves thenormativity by deflating it. But I argue that onlysuch deflated normativity has any chance of beingmade naturalistically respectable. (shrink)
The articles in this issue attempt to better understand the specific relationship between literature and the workings of the brain/mind. It includes articles from a literary scholar and poet who examines the neurological basis of writing poetry, and from four literary scholars: one who looks at the relation between some specific poetic techniques and the functioning of certain processing systems in the brain, one who examines how bodily systems outside the brain are enlisted in the reading experience, one who uses (...) a philosophical approach to look at the specific issue of solipsism and its treatment in literature, and one who looks at how literature is an example of a conceptual integration system that makes us distinctly human. (shrink)