New Publication: Addiction and the Capability to Abstain

Hi! Here’s one of my newly published open access articles. In it, I offer a capabilitarian analysis of what’s bad about addiction for those caught in its grips.

Title: Addiction and the Capability to Abstain
From the journal: Res Publica
PDF version:


Addiction is a widespread problem affecting people from different regions, generations, and classes. It is often analysed as a problem consisting in compulsion or poor choice-making. Recently, however, integrated analyses of compulsion and choice have been called for. In this paper, I argue that the capability approach highlights the well-being loss at stake in cases of addiction, whether they are described as stemming from compulsion, poor choice-making, or some combination thereof. The relevant capabilities obtain when combinations of individual, socio-political, and environmental factors jointly facilitate abstention. On this complementary evaluative analysis, people’s capabilities to abstain are shown to be undermined by how different kinds of factors interact with each other. The upshot is that without committing to an empirical view of the nature of addiction that must capture each case, the capabilitarian analysis helps highlight a central goal of addiction-related well-being policy-work, namely to promote people’s genuine opportunities to abstain.

Keywords: Well-being · Addiction · Capability approach · Choice views · Compulsion views

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