Science and Engineering Ethics 22 (6):1669-1688 (2016)

Authors
Luciano Floridi
Oxford University
Abstract
Toleration is one of the fundamental principles that inform the design of a democratic and liberal society. Unfortunately, its adoption seems inconsistent with the adoption of paternalistically benevolent policies, which represent a valuable mechanism to improve individuals’ well-being. In this paper, I refer to this tension as the dilemma of toleration. The dilemma is not new. It arises when an agent A would like to be tolerant and respectful towards another agent B’s choices but, at the same time, A is altruistically concerned that a particular course of action would harm, or at least not improve, B’s well-being, so A would also like to be helpful and seeks to ensure that B does not pursue such course of action, for B’s sake and even against B’s consent. In the article, I clarify the specific nature of the dilemma and show that several forms of paternalism, including those based on ethics by design and structural nudging, may not be suitable to resolve it. I then argue that one form of paternalism, based on pro-ethical design, can be compatible with toleration and hence with the respect for B’s choices, by operating only at the informational and not at the structural level of a choice architecture. This provides a successful resolution of the dilemma, showing that tolerant paternalism is not an oxymoron but a viable approach to the design of a democratic and liberal society.
Keywords Ethics by design  Liberalism  Nudging  Paternalism  Toleration  Value-sensitive design
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-015-9733-2
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References found in this work BETA

The Ethics of Information.Luciano Floridi - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press UK.
Paternalism.Gerald Dworkin - 1972 - The Monist 56 (1):64-84.
A Letter Concerning Toleration.John Locke & James H. Tully (eds.) - 1963 - Hackett Publishing Company.
Paternalism.Gerald Dworkin - 1972 - The Monist.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Ethics of Digital Well-Being: A Thematic Review.Christopher Burr, Mariarosaria Taddeo & Luciano Floridi - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (4):2313–⁠2343.
Empowerment or Engagement? Digital Health Technologies for Mental Healthcare.Christopher Burr & Jessica Morley - 2020 - In Christopher Burr & Silvia Milano (eds.), The 2019 Yearbook of the Digital Ethics Lab. pp. 67-88.

View all 14 citations / Add more citations

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