Self-deception and responsibility for addiction

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We frequently accuse heavy drinkers and drug users of self-deception if they refuse to admit that they are addicted. However, given the ways in which we usually conceptualize it, acknowledging addiction merely involves swapping one form of self-deception for another. We ask addicts to see themselves as in the grip of an irresistible desire, and to accept that addiction is an essentially physiological process. To the extent this is so, we, as much as the addicts, suffer from self-deception, and the responsibility for their state is in part ours. Conversely, since addicts are compelled to accept a self-deceptive image of themselves, they are at least partially excused from blame for their self-deception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-142
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Philosophy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


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