Addiction is sometimes regarded as no more serious than ‘a habit’. This description makes it sound like those with addiction problems could easily stop. For, as might be claimed, everyone has habits good and bad, and pretty much everyone is able, with some willpower and good tactics, to control their habits. It would be nice if this was true in all cases of addictions, particularly to highly addictive substances like tobacco. Unfortunately it is not. Nevertheless, it might be too hasty to give up on the idea that addiction is a kind of habit after all. To that end I intend to explore the conceptual territory of habit and addiction in order to see whether the former might shed any useful light on the latter. I am reasonably optimistic that it can for both interesting and surprising reasons.
Dr Steve Matthews is Senior Research Fellow at the Plunkett Centre for Ethics (a joint centre of St Vincent’s and Mater Health, and ACU), and in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy. He joined ACU in 2011. Prior to that he held posts at Macquarie University (2010-2011), Charles Sturt University (1999-2009), and as a sessional and part time lecturer at Monash University (1994-1998), where he completed his PhD in 1997.
His published works relate to the metaphysics of personal identity over time, moral psychology, the philosophy of psychiatry, and applied ethics. Recently he has been focusing on questions of autonomy, agency, and narrative identity where those concepts may test, and be tested by, empirical findings related to those struggling with addictions, mental illness, or dementia.