Against Two Modest Conceptions of Hard Paternalism

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (2):409-422 (2013)
Abstract
People in our liberal pluralistic society have conflicting intuitions about the legitimacy of coercive hard paternalism, though respect for agency provides a common source of objection to it. The hard paternalist must give adequate reasons for her coercion which are acceptable to a free and equal agent. Coercion that fails to meet with an agent’s reasonable evaluative commitments is at least problematic and risks being authoritarian. Even if the coercer claims no normative authority over the coercee, the former still uses coercion to replace the latter’s reasons or will with his own reasons or will. But does every hard paternalistic view have to invite such objection? Throughout I will assume that defenders of what I will call “Neutral Paternalism” (NP) and “Commonsense Paternalism” (CP) aim to offer reasons for coercion all can reasonably endorse despite evaluative diversity, in opposition to more objectionable forms of coercive paternalism, such as those which defend it on religious or perfectionist grounds. I will argue, nonetheless, that Gerald Dworkin’s defense of NP and Danny Scoccia’s defense of CP succumb to the same problems of objectionable imposition that saddle other forms of coercive paternalism. The shortcomings in their views suggest that even modest hard paternalism is nonetheless problematic for liberals
Keywords Paternalism  Liberalism  Neutrality  Self-determination  Gerald Dworkin  Gerald Gaus
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References found in this work BETA
Gerald Dworkin, Paternalism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Danny Scoccia (2008). In Defense of Hard Paternalism. Law and Philosophy 27 (4):351 - 381.
Robert S. Taylor (2004). A Kantian Defense of Self-Ownership. Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (1):65–78.
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