Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

Addiction: Moral and Legal Issues

Addiction: Moral and Legal Issues


Index# 12334

Professor Douglas Husak

T/H 9:50-11:10

HC N106 College Ave Campus

Will NOT Count Towards SAS – Philosophy MAJOR
Will Count Towards SAS – Philosophy MINOR

Many of the most interesting questions about drug policy center on addiction.  Questions to be explored include: What is addiction?  Is there anything special about addictions to drugs, or are other activities (e.g., sex, gambling, etc.) also addictive?  Is addiction a disease or a choice – or something in-between?  What evidence should be used to decide?  What is the moral relevance of addiction?  Is addiction bad per se (even to caffeine) or is it bad only under some circumstances?  Why do persons seemingly jeopardize much of what they value---their jobs and personal relationships---to continue to use substances to which they are addicted?  Does a theory of rational behavior help to resolve this puzzle?  Is anything good about the status of being an addict?

I would raise such questions as the following: How should our legal policy respond to addiction?  In particular, how should the law deal with the current opiate crisis?  What has caused this crisis and what might be done to alleviate it?  Is addiction an excuse?  Ever, sometimes, never?  Does it mitigate blame?  Are persons responsible for what they do as addicts because (and if) they were responsible for the free and voluntary choices that led to their addiction?  What has the law said about the criminal liability of addicts?  Can the promise of sobriety ever be used as a condition to place a defendant on probation and to revoke his probation if he relapses? 

 About Professor Husak

I have spent a good deal of my (now long) academic life as a philosopher thinking, reading, writing, and talking about drug policy.  I have written three books on the topic and have been on approximately thirty professional panels. I have been on the faculty of eight different law schools and have taught courses in drug policy to law students (most notably, at the University of Michigan).