Mini Paper # 2
Psychology 111, Fall 2010
“Narcotic addiction serves the design of the prince of darkness, for it disrupts the
channel to the holy spirit of truth. At present the adversary has an unfair advantage. Addiction has the
capacity to disconnect the human will and nullify moral agency. It can rob one of the power to decide.
Agency is too fundamental a doctrine to be left in such jeopardy. —Elder Boyd K. Packer
It is clear, at this point, that although psychology cannot yet predict all the people all the time,
there are lawful processes that make behavior predictable. For example the Matching Law tells us that
events that are reinforced are likely to be repeated. Genetic influences lead us to behave according to
specific laws of psychology. Laws of neuroscience teach that repeated activation of the pleasure center
leads to addiction. We can calculate precise formulas in physics, chemistry, and even in biology to predict
in a lawful manner how gravity, essential elements, and cell activity lead to specific outcomes. While
psychology has not reached the maturity of the physical sciences, it advances more each day. Presumably,
as neuroscience and other fields mature we will reach a point where behavior can be predicted to the
finest detail. If psychological laws govern behavior, and we reach a point where we understand the laws
well enough to predict all the people all the time, is “freedom of choice but an illusion”?
How do the
consequences of behavior lead one to develop choices and ultimately change, even when our behavior
becomes over-learned or automatic (without thought), or behavior becomes addictive? Provide and
underline the topic sentence indicating what direction you will be taking with the question.
paper is worth 66 points.
Question: When are we limited in the use of our agency? What does Elder Packer mean when he
says addiction, “…
can rob one of the power to decide.”?
In the first paragraph, provide an introduction (+7 points) and the underlined topic sentence (+ 5
In life, each person has to make his own choice and be responsible for his own action. A people’s
lives, their successes or failures are the result of their choices, or of how they use their agency. A
person’s agency is constrained by addictions and habits through creating emotions and feelings,
and is depending on the interaction of his own genes and environment.
2. In the second paragraph, discuss how sickness and illness (fever for example), as well as pleasure and
negative affect (feeling dysphoria) might affect agency. How is addiction different from overlearned
habits? (+ 12 Points).
Human agency is driven by the mechanism of reward and aversion relief through feelings and emotions.