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Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  70 ratings  ·  26 reviews
What is the nature of addiction? Neither of the two dominant models (disease or choice) adequately accounts for the experience of those who are addicted or of those who are seeking to help them.

In this interdisciplinary work, Kent Dunnington brings the neglected resources of philosophical and theological analysis to bear on the problem of addiction. Drawing on the insights

Hardcover, 197 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by IVP Academic
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4.41  · 
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 ·  70 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Is there an alternative to describing addiction as a choice vs a disease? Dunnington contends that there is a neglected third category, that of habit, which has both voluntary and involuntary elements. He utilizes the analysis of both Aristotle and Aquinas to resurrect this category. He observes that this explains the "addiction paradox" in which addicts come to terms with their addiction by admitting their helplessness.

For me, the most striking insight of this book was the proposition that the
Tim Otto
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The link between the modern disease model of addiction, and the historic witness of Christianity that addiction is a sin (and therefore contains an element of free choice)is puzzling. This book explains how a person can both be enslaved, and accountable, through the lens of habit. It is academic at the beginning but gets more accessible toward the end as Dunnington explores the implications of his work. Highly recommended.
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In the preface Dunnington asserts, "The power of addiction cannot be adequately appraised until addiction is understood as a misguided enactment of our quest for right relationship with God."

This statement may surprise, shock, or horrify perspective readers. I've heard things like this before. But rarely does a book actually deliver the necessary steps between a reader's pre-understanding and substantiating the author's claims. All the steps of the argument are at least here. This is actually a
Dec 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice is a daring book. It dares to pull together philosophy, theology, and scientific-behavioral studies on addiction into what suggests a coherent whole. It offers some remarkably helpful insights for addiction of all kinds: behavioral, chemical, psychological, and, by implication, even spiritual. My biggest criticism of the work is that the author, though trained in the subtleties of philosophical dialectic, insists on using words like “ ...more
Fr. Ted
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm in a church which places a great deal of emphasis on free will and personal responsibility. I do not know totally how the notion of addiction fits in to this picture. Dunnington's book points out that as the medical model of dealing with human problems has replaced a theological model of sinners needing to repent, so the notion of human addiction became more popular. Really only since the 20th Century was addiction offered as an explanation for so many human conditions. Dunnington also point ...more
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A theological-philosophical interaction with the experience of addiction and a critique of "addiction as disease." This is a richer, more interdisciplinary approach than typical reductionistic treatments usually offered by evangelicals that brings Aristotle and Aquinas to bear on addiction, with lots of important implications for local church ministry. Pastors would do well to take these observations to heart.
Jeffrey Backlin
This is an excellent book on the pain and strength of addiction and philosophical views on the topic. A must read.
Ray A.
Before the advent of AA, what we now call alcoholics were just plain old drunks, bums, or, less disparagingly, inebriates. What we now call alcoholism was a bad habit or vice, namely, the vice of intemperance (hence the Temperance Movement). Seen philosophically and psychologically, it was the product of a weak will. Theologically it was the product of sin. Neither view did much for the alcoholic.

AA changed all of that. It popularized the terms "alcoholic" and "alcoholism" and gained widespread
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent read that looks at what addiction is: a choice or a disease? Dunnington explores the third possibility of habit- he looks at the nuances of recovery and relapse, with and without treatment, and what the phenomenon of addiction says about our society. Lastly, he explores the role of faith and the church in an addictive society. Where have these failed? Do they offer a better solution?
Brianna Albers
I'm genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I struggle with theology these days, but Dunnington speaks plainly within an actionable framework about meaning and transcendence and the fundamental aims of humanity. His arguments stretched me, annoyed me, and made me angry, but I enjoyed every moment of it.
Zach Waldis
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Written by a former professor, Dr Dunnington writes in a style which ought to be accessible to more than just the philosophically inclined. I'm not quite sure what his analysis does to actually help the church bring "new life to the addict" (194), but his discussion of "habit" as a third way of sorts between a disease and moral choice paradigm is helpful.
Brett Linsley
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is fuel for life. A writer demonstrating in fine fashion why the thought of Aristotle and Aquinas needs to be resurrected. His discussion of habit and incontinence is a fresh way of viewing not only any addictions we may have but the very character of our lives more generally. Fantastic.
Clint Walker
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If most of the books in the series of Strategic Initiatives in Evangelical Theology are like Addiction and Virtue by Kent Dunnington, then Intervarsity Press is going to have a critically acclaimed, best selling series of theology books on their hands. Addiction and Virtue is a brilliant, interdisciplinary approach to developing a theology of addiction that has a lot to say to the church about its witness in the world and its life together.

The thesis of Addiction and Virtue is profound. Put sim
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really appreciated this book. Here are a few quotes that I found especially helpful:

"Because recovery as conceived by A.A. is a technology of habit reformation, it demands vigilant attention to both the external and internal dimensions of sober action" (79).

"Addiction is a complex habit" (88).

"The scope of recovery is therefore radically extended within a Christian view of addiction. Indeed ‘recovery’ does not sufficiently name the Christian hope in the face of addiction. Instead the Christia
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I just finished Addiction and Virtue. I enjoyed the author's treatment of the subject and especially the emphasis on the Aristotelian and Thomist virtues. The author makes a strong case demonstrating the false dichotomy of the usual arguments seeking to define addiction as either a failure of moral choice or disease. Without denying either outright, he shows a third element based on the idea of "Habitus" (translated as 'habit').

He also shows that beyond this there is something else about addicti
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Profound and illuminating. This draws on Aristotle and Aquinas to develop an explanation of addiction, and cites many modern autobiographical materials to strengthen the case. Chapter 5 will rock your world.

I must criticize two things: the scant detail he includes of scientific surveys to bolster his philosophical argument, and the theology throughout. His entire argument really hinges on those points; I can only assume by his intelligence elsewhere that the author purposefully neglected them. H
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book moves the ball forward in understanding the paradox of addiction. The author is a philosopher, and his writing is from that frame. I appreciated his insights into how addiction as we know it is a peculiarly modern phenomenon, and how the phenomenon of addiction reveals the the ways in which our culture fails to provide the goods we need for human flourishing. The final chapters on addiction and sin, worship, and the church provide promising starts for the church to wrestle with how it ...more
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was absolutely wonderful. It is written from a philosophical stance so be prepared for some slow, deep reading at times. However, it is well worth the time invested. Takes a whole new approach to the problem of addiction by looking at it through Aquinas' view on habit. It will enrich your knowledge of addiction and help you gain some insight into this formidable foe.
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pastors, any church member
Dunnington argues that addiction is neither a simple choice or a disease, but falls within the category of habit as defined by Aristotle and Aquinas, and is ultimatley a powerful form of idolatry. Concludes with a helpful call to the church to be a community that calls for passionate worship and true friendship.
Wesley Yaryan
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recovery, theology
This is a good theilogy of the recovery movement. Groups like CR or 180 excvhange should embrace this book wholeheartedly. it will not be embraced fully by all twelve step groups, butthey should be wrestled with by those within those groups.
Jamie Pennington
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Some difficult reading from both an emotional and academic stand point. Yet, I am glad I read the book and garnered a bit different perspective on the issue of addiction.
Gregg Jennings
May 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved this both personally and for sermon preparation.
Eric Beeman
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
A great alternative to the most common perspectives on addiction.
Peter Owens
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best and most relevant philosophy texts I've ever read. Impossible to overstate its importance for understanding addiction.
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Kent Dunnington, associate professor of philosophy at Biola University, California, teaches and writes in the areas of virtue ethics and theological ethics. Other research interests include addiction and criminal justice, inspired by his experiences teaching in prison.