A central component of my current research involves investigating the clinical stance often adopted towards patients who do wrong or behave in problematic, difficult ways that I call ‘Responsibility without Blame’. This stance involves holding patients responsible and accountable for their behaviour, but not blaming them, in order to facilitate learning and change. At first glance, this stance can seem conceptually incoherent, let alone impossible to achieve in practice. I have developed a conceptual framework that articulates the concepts of responsibility and blame implicit in this stance, and explored how this separation can in practice be achieved. This research is the basis for a training I have developed for mental health professionals and prision officers.
My research on addiction focuses on using philosophical analysis and clinical practice to redress the standard conception of addiction as a neurobiological disease of compulsion. I argue that drug and alcohol use is a choice that, within the clinical population of chronic addicts, is both purposive and to some extent rational given a realistic picture of the social and economic environment and co-morbid mental health problems that most addicts face. I believe we need to radically reform our common attitudes towards addiction and transform drug law and policy.
I also work on self-harm and violence towards others, theories of punishment and criminal law, the moral emotions, decision-making capacity; and I am interested in cognitive and social psychology, feminist philosophy, and placebos.