Addiction as weakness of the will is the oldest view of addiction among psychologists and philosophers. According to this view of addiction, some part of an addict may wish to abstain from addicted behaviours, but their will is not strong enough to overcome an immediate desire towards temptation. In other words, addicts lose control over their actions. Therefore, this page will explain addiction as weakness of the will basing on two interpretations; violation of resolution and intentional action freely performed against person’s consciously judgement.
The first interpretation is that the weakness of the will is the violation of “resolution”. In this view, resolution is a kind of decision, intention, plan, or policy that is formed precisely in order to remain firm in the face of contrary desires one expect to arise when the time to act comes (Holton, 2009). In this interpretation, addiction can be evident in an over-readiness to abandon one’s resolutions for exactly the type of reasons they were meant to overcome. Therefore, if addicts are weak-willed, their control problem may have consisted what is called persistent lack of resolve with respect to temperate behaviour (Holton, 2009). Addictions as weakness of the will is in form of relapse where an addict may form a resolution to abstain from taking addictive substance in the future. However, when the opportunity for consumption draws closer, the addicts end up succumbing to the temptation. For example, addicts may weigh the benefits that come after consuming the addictive substance and the benefits they may get when they do not take the substance. When the reasons for consuming that substance appear to provide better reasons for consumption, the addicts revise their resolutions hence going back to the addictive substance.
The second interpretation of addiction as weakness of the will is interpreted as an intentional action freely performed against person’s consciously held judgement that, on the whole it would be best not to perform the action (Heather & Segal, 2017). In this interpretation, weakness of the will is articulated in a failure of the addicts to comply with their own best judgements while still holding those judgements. In other words, weak-willed addicts might not form resolutions to give up their addictive behaviour.
In conclusion, addiction as weakness of the will comes in because one loses his or her control over his or her addictive actions. However, this view may be wrong because other people are morally corrupt hedonists who value immediate pleasure above all else hence, what is called addition may not be addiction to them, but rather, the way of satisfying their pleasure.
- Holton, R. (2009). Willing, Wanting, Waiting. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Heather, N. & Segal, G. (2017). Addiction and Choice: Rethinking the Relationship. Oxford: Oxford University Press.