The 13th Tradition: Thou Shall Not Criticize A.A.

I have been scolded, warned, and threatened for saying and writing what I think about Alcoholics Anonymous. In all cases, what I have been told boils down to: You shouldn’t criticize a program that has helped millions of people stay sober. Well, why not? First, let me dismiss one kind of counter-argument. One might respondContinue reading “The 13th Tradition: Thou Shall Not Criticize A.A.”

A paradox of reason – Part I

It doesn’t take long to encounter an old-timer who says that an alcoholic’s “best thinking got you into this room” or that the alcoholic’s “thinker is broke.” Often following that observation is the advice to “take the cotton out of your ears and stuff it in your mouth,” or as a colorful local articulates it,Continue reading “A paradox of reason – Part I”

Being a philosopher in recovery

As a philosopher, I’m accustomed to being misunderstood. When I’ve discussed or written in this space about “outside issues” or prayer in traditional AA meetings, a lot of responses have frankly missed my point. I am not seeking advice on how to deal with my life. I know that I can leave an AA meetingContinue reading “Being a philosopher in recovery”

“Outside issues”

Hanging on many an AA room’s wall is the Twelve Traditions. The Tenth may be the most frequently cited: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy. To understand what this means, one might consult Bill Wilson’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Wilson notesContinue reading ““Outside issues””

Belief and the infallible big book

“Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, p 164. Meetings in my local traditional AA groups end with “A Vision For You,” usually followed by the Lord’s Prayer. It doesn’t take a lot of critical thinking to notice that the two statements that beginContinue reading “Belief and the infallible big book”

Social Contract, Classical Liberalism, and the Ideology of Individualism in AA

Sorta part 2 I previously wrote that Alcoholics Anonymous can be understood on the model of classic liberal social contract theory, as a society composed by the free act of individual persons. An obvious problem with a social contract is that if it is a democratic society, the majority has a tendency to rule asContinue reading “Social Contract, Classical Liberalism, and the Ideology of Individualism in AA”

The Social Contract of Alcoholics Anonymous

There may be no purer example of a society formed by social contract than Alcoholics Anonymous. It will come as no news to secular AAers that this doesn’t necessarily mean that AA is a bastion for equal rights of all. We forget that the great theorists of social contract were dangerous radicals. They rejected theContinue reading “The Social Contract of Alcoholics Anonymous”