Free will and moral responsibility in addiction – Hanna Pickard on the Hi Phi Nation podcast

Hi Phi Nation Podcast - Willful Acts - Katherine M. Zhou
Image: Katherine M. Zhou

Professor Hanna Pickard was a guest on the Hi Phi Nation podcast last week, talking about addiction in relation to free will and moral responsibility.

The podcast first talked about two prevailing models of addiction: the moral model, which sees addicts as making immoral lifestyle choices; and the disease model, which suggests that the addict has little or no control over their addiction, that it is a neurological disease.

However, Hanna argues that the moral and the disease models fail to take account of the cultural contexts of why people become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Hanna’s idea of a ‘responsibility without blame’ approach acknowledges that people have agency, but does so with a non-stigmatising and non-condemnatory attitude. The idea is not to blame and stigmatise people, but to contextualise their choices to better understand addicts, and to empower and support them to choose differently.

You can find out more about Hanna’s ‘Responsibility without blame’ approach on her recently released e-learning website at