Addiction and self-deception: A method for self-control?

Mary Jean Walker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Neil Levy argues that while addicts who believe they are not addicts are selfdeceived, addicts who believe they are addicts are just as self-deceived.Such persons accept a false belief that their addictive behaviour involves a loss of control. This paper examines two implications of Levy's discussion: that accurate self-knowledge may be particularly difficult for addicts; and that an addict's self-deceived belief that they cannot control themselves may aid their attempts at self-control. I argue that the self-deceived beliefs of addicts in denial and of self-described addicts differ in kind. Unlike the self-deception of an addict in denial, that of the self-described addict allows them to acknowledge their behaviour.As such, it may aid an addict to develop more self-control.A paradoxical implication is that this self-deception may allow an addict more self-knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-319
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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