Responsibility for Addiction

25 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2011 Last revised: 3 Sep 2011

See all articles by Richard J. Bonnie

Richard J. Bonnie

University of Virginia - School of Law

Date Written: February 10, 2011


Taking as its starting point the characterization of addiction as a "brain disease" by the nation’s leadership in public health and biomedical science, this paper explores the implications of recent developments in neuroscience for the concept of responsibility. The terrain is divided into three parts: responsibility for becoming addicted; responsibility for behavior symptomatic of addiction; and responsibility for amelioration of addiction. In general, the paper defends the thesis that recent scientific developments have sharpened but not erased traditional understandings in the first two areas, while recent legal developments have exposed new and intriguing theories of responsibility for managing.

Suggested Citation

Bonnie, Richard J., Responsibility for Addiction (February 10, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Richard J. Bonnie (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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