This Throw Back Sunday (we’ll settle on that name for these posts) post was originally posted in 2006. I appreciate the author’s attempt to shift the conversation away from false dichotomies.
Interesting commentary on choice and stigma:
…of course what’s meant by personal weakness and bad choices, when stigmatizing addicts, is that the addict should have risen above his weakness; he could have chosen otherwise at the time addiction took hold. There’s an implicit assumption of contra-causal agency: no matter what influences and factors came to bear, the addict could have done otherwise, but simply chose not to.
The key point, though, on an enlightened understanding of the moral dimension of addiction, is that it is specific behavior that’s the potential target of sanctions, not the mythical moral core. Once bad choices are seen as outcomes of causes and conditions, not free will, then we won’t imagine that there’s any virtue in the blanket condemnation of the addict as a bad person, even though we must still judge some behavior as wrong.