“Addiction and the Good,” Hanna Pickard (Johns Hopkins University)

May 16, 2024, 12:00 pm1:30 pm
Laura Wooten Hall, Room 301 (Kerstetter Room)
Open to Princeton University ID Holders


Event Description


Addiction science is at an impasse. Rates of addiction are rising. Translational results from decades of research conducted within the dominant brain disease paradigm are next to nil. Meanwhile theories of addiction are multiplying and competing, fomenting disagreement about something as apparently simple as how addiction should be defined. How to move forward? I will propose a Carnapian-style “explication” of addiction as a foundation for a new paradigm: Addiction is a pattern of drug use that persists despite evident and severe costs that count profoundly against a person’s own good. I will show how this explication naturally arises through considering what is puzzling about addiction by contrast with ordinary drug use; briefly explain its relevance to addiction science as a way of diagnosing disagreement and moving beyond the impasse; and clarify its terms, paying particular attention to some of the complexities surrounding the idea of a person’s own good. I will argue that, in practice, there is no way of determining what is in a person’s own good without taking their sincerely self-reported conception of it into account. The new paradigm is therefore as humanistic as it is scientific, putting values at the heart of addiction, and dialogue with people about their values at the heart of diagnosis.