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Publications

Peer-Reviewed

"Affordances and the Shape of Addiction," with Lucy Osler. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, forthcoming.

Recently, Glackin et al. (2021) have suggested that how agency is impacted in addiction can be helpfully analyzed using the concept of affordances. They argue that addicted agents experience addiction-related affordances, such as action possibilities relating to drugs, drug paraphernalia, and drug-related activities, as aberrantly salient motivations for action. Building on this approach, we present a novel two-tiered affordance model of addiction. In doing so, we suggest that what is significant about the addicted person’s world is not simply what affordances are experienced as salient, but also the way in which the addicted person’s world is shaped by a dominant concern. It is not only that addiction-related affordances become more prominent as addiction progresses but that one’s plurality of concerns become monopolized by and funneled through addiction. Our model endorses Glackin et al.’s idea that addiction-related affordances become aberrantly salient, while proposing why they become and remain so. This way of viewing agency in addiction also brings to light important implications for recovery and treatment. For, if an addicted person adopts a new, even “socially approved”, dominant concern, there is a risk that the shape of addiction is preserved, even though the content changes, leaving an individual at the risk of addiction substitution or relapse.

 

"Affective Scaffolding in Addiction." Inquiry, 2023

Theories of addiction have sought to explain how self-control is undermined in addiction. However, an important explanatory factor in addictive motivation and behaviours has so far been underexamined: emotion. This paper examines the link between emotion and loss of control in addiction. I use the concept of affective scaffolding to argue that drug use functions as a form of emotion regulation that, especially in certain psycho-socioeconomic conditions, can escalate into what I term addictive affective dependence. Addictive affective dependence is extremely motivating of drug use, and in this way contributes to the agent losing control. An upshot of the paper is that it predicts something that is known to be true about addiction treatment and recovery: strategies that address psycho-socioeconomic conditions are particularly successful in bolstering agency in addiction. Furthermore, my view explains why these strategies work. Thus, the view provides a conceptual framework for existing effective methods of addressing addiction. 

"Addictive Craving: There’s More to Wanting More." Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 27(3), 2020.

The phenomenon of craving is widely taken to be a key feature of addiction, commonly appealed to in order to explain how addiction jeopardizes self-control, intentions, resolutions, and choice. The received view of craving is a neurobiological account which defines cravings as intense urges that result from the pathological effects of drugs on the dopamine system. In this paper, I argue that the received view of craving is inadequate; it misidentifies the content of addictive craving and fails to capture its phenomenology. I propose an alternative explanation according to which addictive cravings are psychologically complex desires that aim at emotionally significant experiences that are highly valued in the context of addiction. This alternative account helps explain why cravings are so intense and often extremely difficult to resist.

"What’s Wrong with the (White) Female Nude?" The Polish Journal of Aesthetics 41(2), 2016.

In “What’s Wrong with the (Female) Nude?” A. W. Eaton argues that the female nude in Western art promotes sexually objectifying, heteronormative erotic taste, and thereby has insidious effects on gender equality. In this response, I reject the claim that sexual objectification is a phenomenon that can be generalized across the experiences of women. In particular, I argue that Eaton’s thesis is based on the experiences of women who are white, and does not pay adequate attention to the lives of racialized women. This act of exclusion undermines the generality of Eaton’s thesis, and exposes a more general bias in discussions of the representation of women in art. Different kinds of gendered bodies have been subjected to different kinds of objectifying construal, and the ethics of nudity in art must be extended to take such variation into account.

Invited 

"The phenomenology of craving, and the explanatory overreach of neuroscience." Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology  27(3), 2020. 

This is a response to commentaries by Owen Flanagan and Douglas Porter on my article "Addictive Craving: There's More to Wanting More." In this reply I make clarifying points regarding my views on the relationship between neuroscience and phenomenology, and I expand on my original thesis, focusing especially on addiction treatment, harm reduction, and the role of testimony.

Other Writing

"Why we crave." Aeon magazine, September 2022

Under Review & In Progress

          Two papers on affective injustice in psychiatry, with A. Gagné-Julien (under review & in progress)
          A paper on psychiatric drugs and cognitive and affective scaffolding (in progress)

          A paper on emotion regulation and agency in addiction, with A. Snoek &F. Gammelsæter (in progress)

          A paper on loneliness and addiction(in progress)

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