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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Addictions impairs Autonomy
Author: Fraser Trevor
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“addiction impairs autonomy—when it does—because it fragments the agent, preventing her from extending her will across time… addicts experie...
“addiction impairs autonomy—when it does—because itfragments the agent, preventing her from extending her will across time… addicts experience preference reversals which are sharper and less controllable than those to which non-addicts aresubject.”
In this sense—as an experienced obstacle to the life that we desire and identify withmost of the time—addiction is autonomy-impairing. Importantly, this implies that recoveryinvolves equipping alcoholics with patterns of thought and action which will be helpful inrebuilding the relationships and self-understandings required to counteract the harmful effects of alcoholism. Hence the appeal to spiritual programs like the Twelve-Steps to provide theseimportant structures.What is Autonomy?Nevertheless, it still may be the case that such spiritual programs conflict with our attempts to develop autonomous selves insofar as they demand that we admit powerlessness andsurrender to a “higher power.” However, a careful consideration of the components of anautonomous life will show that this challenge misses the mark.I noted above that autonomy involves a capacity to live according to our owndeterminations of the good life. Importantly, this means that autonomy is not reducible to theexercise of control over our desires and actions, or to independence from the wills or values of others. Such a model of autonomy is implausible for a number of reasons. For one, it seems totoo narrowly construe autonomy in that it fails to recognize our dependency on others incontemporary life, physically, emotionally, and politico-economically. This model also overlooksthe important fact that our desires and motivations often originate outside our control, and onlylater  come to be integrated into our lives. Motivations such as familial relations, as well as socio-economic, political, and historical factors, play an often under-recognized role in our capacity todevelop and enjoy our lives. We are relational beings, and it is only by abstraction that we think of our lives outside this context. An independence-based model of autonomy is thus not suitablefor discussions of real-life situations which often involve many complex, sometimes conflicting,

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