ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION
Philosophy, Phenomenology, and Neuroscience: The Groundwork for an Interdisciplinary Approach to a Comprehensive Understanding of Addiction
Jason David Gray
Doctor of Philosophy, Graduate Program in Philosophy University of California, Riverside, June 2013 Dr. John Martin Fischer, Chairperson
Biologists, psychologist, philosophers, sociologists, and even economists have offered explanations of addiction. These analyses range from the view that it is the result of a disorder of the reward and inhibitory centers of the brain to the contention that it is the product of a rational choice model. One philosophical theory holds that addiction is something which holds life affirming meaning for the addict.
My dissertation uses some of the (more promising) existing theories to formulate what I call the "hybrid" theory. Many theorists do not seem to attempt, and may not recognize the need for, an interdisciplinary approach to addiction. In my dissertation I begin -it seems unlikely that my theory could be considered complete- to construct such an approach.
My theory integrates neurobiological and phenomenological explanations. The neurobiological element of the theory centers on the claim that addiction can be
understood as a disordered appetite. I offer evidence from the biological literature that
addiction and appetite have a great deal in common. I argue that the literature implies that addiction is a disordered variant of an acquired appetite. I also explain, in conceptual terms, what constitutes a disordering of appetite.
The second element of the hybrid theory takes account of the phenomenology of addiction. Specifically I claim that addiction can also be a disordered passion. Biological models explain a great deal, but they fail to capture the experience of the addict which accumulates over the years or decades of addiction. It is necessary to understand the emotional connection with an addictive good -from the addict's point of view- in order to gain a fuller understanding of addiction. I believe the phenomenology of addiction is especially important to explaining the problem of relapse.
The hybrid theory is not merely the juxtaposition of two different views of addiction. I believe addiction is best understood as being both things at once. I claim that either is sufficient for addiction, but each can explain aspects of addiction that the other cannot account for fully. My theory, if correct, shows that understanding addiction requires a balanced and integrated approach from multiple