Addiction and action: Aristotle and Aquinas in dialogue with addiction studies



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The phenomenon of addiction has been a subject of investigation for a number of academic disciplines, but little has been written about addiction from a philosophical perspective. This dissertation inserts philosophy into the conversations taking place within the multi-disciplinary field of ?Addiction Studies.? It contends that the philosophical accounts of human action given by Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas provide means for an analysis of many of the conceptual confusions in the field of Addiction Studies, including those surrounding the concepts of choice, compulsion, and habit. It argues that the category of habit in these two thinkers is richer and more complex than contemporary conceptions of habit and that the category of habit in its Aristotelian and Thomistic guises is indispensable for charting an intelligible path between the muddled polarities that construe addiction as either a disease or a type of willful misconduct. Furthermore, it suggests that recognizing the distance between Aristotle?s social context and the modern social context affords powerful insight into the character of modern addiction, and that an exploration of the parallels between the habit of addiction and Aquinas?s development of the habit of charity offers suggestive inroads for thinking about addiction as a moral strategy for integrated and purposive action.