3. The ethical implications of how problem gambling is conceptualized
Understanding problem gambling is still work in progress in research, i.e. there is no consensus. The role and nature of the individual gambler’s agency is an exemplar of this. The way in which gambling is understood has implications on how it is researched and consequently controlled in the society. The presentation highlights the implications of two frameworks, namely flow and predictive processing (PP), on the agency in problem gambling. The purpose is to illustrate how ethical implications of a chosen framework bear relevance to its acceptability in knowledgeproduction. The framework of PP enables the agent to have rationality by explaining problem gambling in terms of minimizing uncertainty. PP does not deem gamblers or their actions irrational, as some competing accounts suggest. The flow framework illustrates that flow is common in all gambling and thus is not an aspect that undermines agency in problem gambling. Flow characterizes rather than eats away individual’s agency.
The presentation is empirically informed ethics and employs philosophical tools.
It is not only of scientific interest to acknowledge all the relevant aspects of the studied phenomenon and do justice to the stakeholders. As sense of agency is fundamental requirement for an individual’s actions, e.g. in treatment, frameworks should not lightly deem individuals with problem gambling issues as irrational or weak.
A skewed framework produces evidence that have concrete implications as evidence base is utilised in treatment and policy. There are also ethical grounds to consider the plausibility of any theoretical framework that studies social phenomenon involving individuals.