Addiction and Criminal Responsibility: The Law's Rejection of the Disease Model

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



The chapter first provides a positive account of the law’s general concept of the person and responsibility doctrines. It then turns to the argument against the “no choice” claim that seemingly follows from the brain disease model. The next section considers the current legal response to addiction in the United States and, to a lesser degree, in English law. It shows that some version of the choice model is dominant, and that addiction per se plays virtually no role in criminal law’s responsibility ascriptions. The final section defends the choice model that best explains the law and suggests liberalizing reforms to make the law more humane.

Publication Title

Evaluating the Brain Disease Model of Addiction