Hostname: page-component-7d684dbfc8-csfzr Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-09-22T22:27:36.741Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

The instrumental rationality of addiction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 November 2011

Hanna Pickard
Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, Department of Philosophy, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 1PT; All Souls College, Oxford OX1 4AL; Complex Needs Service, Oxford Health NHS Trust, Oxford OX4 1XE, United Kingdom. h.pickard@gmail.com


The claim that non-addictive drug use is instrumental must be distinguished from the claim that its desired ends are evolutionarily adaptive or easy to comprehend. Use can be instrumental without being adaptive or comprehensible. This clarification, together with additional data, suggests that Müller & Schumann's (M&S's) instrumental framework may explain addictive, as well as non-addictive consumption.

Open Peer Commentary
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th ed, Text Revision. American Psychiatric Association.Google ScholarPubMed
Anscombe, G. E. M. (1957) Intention. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Anthony, J. C. & Helzer, J. E. (1991) Syndromes of drug abuse and dependence. In: Psychiatric disorders in America: The epidemiologic catchment area study, ed. Robins, L. N. & Regier, D. A., pp. 116–54. Free Press.Google Scholar
Everitt, B. J. & Robbins, T. W. (2005) Neural systems of reinforcement for drug addiction: From actions to habits to compulsion. Nature Neuroscience 8(11):1481–89.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Heyman, G. M. (2009) Addiction: A disorder of choice. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R. & Walters, E. E. (2005a) Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Archives of General Psychiatry 62:593602.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kessler, R. C., Chiu, W. T., Demler, O., Merikangas, K. R. & Walters, E. E. (2005b) Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Archives of General Psychiatry 62:617–27.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Petersen, T. & Mcbride, A. (2002) Working with substance misusers: A guide to theory and practice. Routledge.Google Scholar
Pickard, H. & Pearce, S. (forthcoming/anticipated 2012) Addiction in context: Philosophical lessons from a personality disorder clinic. In: Addiction and self-control, ed. Levy, N.. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Regier, D. A., Farmer, M. E., Rae, D. S., Locke, B. Z., Keith, S. J., Judd, L. & Frederick, K. G. (1990) Comorbidity of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug abuse. Results from the epidemiological catchment area (ECA) study. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 264:2511–18.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Stinson, F. S., Grant, B. F., Dawson, D., Ruan, W. J., Huang, B. & Saha, T. (2005) Comorbidity between DSM-IV alcohol and specific drug use disorders in the United States: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 80:105–16.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Warner, L. A., Kessler, R. C., Hughes, M., Anthony, J. C. & Nelson, C. B. (1995) Prevalence and correlates of drug use and dependence in the United States. Results from the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry 52:219–29.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed