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Colloquium – Hanna Pickard

September 14, 2018 @ 4:15 pm – 6:15 pm
Gilman Hall
Room 288

Colloquium with Hanna Pickard (Princeton University)

Self-identity and the Puzzle of Addiction

Thursday, September 13, 2018

4:00 to 5:00 PM

NIDA IRP, Biomedical Research Center at JHU Bayview, Conference Room 03C219

The orthodox conception of drug addictionis a neurobiological disease characterized by compulsive drug use despite negative consequences. But this conception depends on three core ideas that are rarely clarified: disease, compulsion, and negative consequences. I shall begin by arguing that it is only when the significance of negative consequences is appreciated that the puzzle of addiction comes clearly into view; and discuss some conceptual and empirical grounds supporting scepticism about the claim that addiction is a form of compulsion, and agnosticism about the claim that addiction is a neurobiological disease. Addiction is better characterized as involving drug choices that, while on the surface puzzling, can be explained by recognizing the multiple functions that drugs serve, and by contextualizing drug choices in relation to a host of interacting and individualized factors. Alongside craving or strength of motivation to use, these factors include (1) psychiatric co-morbidity, (2) limited socio-economic opportunities, (3) temporally myopic decision-making, (4) denial and motivated irrationality, and, lastly, (5) social identity and self-identity. I shall briefly explain the relevance of all five factors, but conclude by focussing on (5) in more detail, exploring the distinctive way that the human drive not only for social reward and belonging but also to know who one is can serve to cement addiction and impede recovery.

Stop Telling Me How To Feel! A Clinical Theory of Emotions and What’s Wrong with the Moralization of Feelings

Friday, September 14, 2018

4:15-6:15 (1 hour talk, followed by Q&A)

JHU Homewood campus, Gilman 288

Diagnostic criteria for patients with personality disorders and complex needs include what are often called “inappropriate” emotions as well as actions that cause severe harm to self and others. By drawing on effective clinical engagement with such patients in conjunction with philosophical considerations, I shall argue for two related but distinct claims. The first is that our common practice of morally reprimanding and criticizing people for their emotions ought to be abandoned. In brief, with respect to forward-looking ends, this practice is at best futile, and at worst incurs significant moral costs; with respect to backward-looking ends, its justification depends on a key assumption that I shall call moralism about the emotions, understood as the view that there are intrinsically, not just instrumentally, morally right and morally wrong ways to feel. The second claim I shall argue for is that moralism about the emotions is ill-foundedThe resulting clinically-inspired, anti-moralistic theory of the emotions not only emphasizes features that are familiar yet often downplayed, namely, that emotions are neither directly responsive to the will nor reliably responsive to reason; it also recommends adopting a strikingly different attitude towards our feelings from that found in mainstream popular and philosophical culture alike. I shall conclude by turning briefly to theories of moral responsibility that aim to provide an account in terms of reactive attitudes, arguing that, in so far as reactive attitudes are to be understood as emotions, they are simply not fit for this purpose.

Sponsored by Department of Philosophy