Smoking, progressive liberalism, and the law

Critical Review 16 (4):405-429 (2004)
Abstract In his dissection of the 1998 tobacco settlements, W. Kip Viscusi provides a window on how the ostensibly liberal public philosophy behind the modern American regulatory state betrays its foundational commitments. Animated by a moralizing concern with preventing harm to self, and a leftist antagonism towards corporate capitalism, ?progressive liberalism? at first foundered in its war against the tobacco industry in the face of traditional liberal counterarguments about individual autonomy, knowledge of risk, and choice. Only when progressive liberals translated their paternalist impulses into science?centered arguments about ignorance and addiction, which involve barriers to autonomous choice and harm to others, did they succeed in turning the legal and regulatory tide against smoking. This dynamic raises questions about the future of individual autonomy in a science?centered, progressive?liberal modern polity.
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