Date of Submission

Fall 2023

Academic Program

Philosophy; Science, Technology and Society

Project Advisor 1

Kathryn Tabb

Project Advisor 2

Gregory Moynahan

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This study considers several of the most successful attempts to understand alcoholism and some of the more successful rehabilitation strategies from the perspective of the philosophy of agency. Puzzling behaviors of the alcoholic are clarified by considering how an individual’s associations between behavior and reward are impacted by the delay of the particular reward, and how this relation is situated by the sober life that serves as a motivation for the alcoholic to drink. Far from being niche interventions, George Ainslie and Hanna Pickard present notable rehabilitation strategies that could have broad applications, particularly in relation to behaviors that involve negative feed-back loops, which are here termed "spiraling habits." As an example of such applications, this study concludes with the example of a concerned citizen in relation to fossil-fuel dependence and despair. It is puzzling why we (alcoholics, fossil fools, addicts, litterbugs, lazy people, antisocial people…) act against our best interests so often. A number of studies in fields ranging from behavioral economics to systems theory help us make sense of this puzzle and present strategies to help rehabilitation.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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