Friday, February 14, 2003

Conceptual Problem in the Concept of Addiction

I wonder whether the concept of addiction is based upon a confusion between two kinds of liberty. One kind is full autonomy, the disposition to act on well-considered judgments (judgments made in understanding of the moral significance and other important features of the various alternative courses of action). The other kind of liberty is the disposition to act according to one’s decisions. I think that the concept of addiction entails that the first kind of liberty is the standard in force. Addicts fail this standard. But the trouble is that they don’t fail the standard that entails only the second kind of liberty. The second kind of liberty is an adequate concept of liberty. What is called “addiction” embodies the psychological wherewithal necessary for liberty. But addiction is, by definition, the concept of people who do not have liberty. So, it is an incoherent concept. The only way to prove that the richer concept of freedom is the real nature of freedom is to show that it is somehow more objective. I don’t see how, though. Autonomy may be a good time but you don’t need it, in order to be free.


Why follow rules, anyway? I think we should do what we want. If we all agree that we don’t want to follow any rules, then there’s no reason why we should follow any. It’s not rational to treat anything except one’s preference as a practical norm. “Because that’s the rule” is not a good enough basic reason for action. If morality runs against our shared preferences, then it is not rational for us. But morality is rational for us. And our preferences do not track rules. This shows that rule-based moral theory is untenable.