It seems as if we’ve seen an upsurge in contrarian arguments recently, as with Paul Bloom’s book, Against Empathy, which I mentioned in my podcast this past week. Here’s another example, this time with Peter Hitchens insisting that addiction is a “fantasy.”
Read the whole thing for his arguments, but this is the point I’d like to draw out for this post:
The Christian religion had no idea that a new power, which I call selfism, would arise. And, having arisen, selfism has easily shouldered its rival aside. In free competition, how can a faith based upon self-restraint and patience compete with one that pardons, unconditionally and in advance, all the self-indulgences you can think of, and some you cannot? That is what the “addiction” argument is most fundamentally about, and why it is especially distressing to hear Christian voices accepting and promoting it, as if it were merciful to call a man a slave, and treat him as if he had no power to resist.
I tend to agree with Hitchens that people can overcome these things if they work at it. Labeling everything as, in essence, a disease may make matters worse, on a societal scale. Mainly, that is, I agree with Hitchens that it is detrimental to inculcate a culture with the idea of powerlessness and, therefore, a denial of individual agency.
In gaining freedom from blame, we lose responsibility (which is a topic I’ve touched on before).