Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (2):409-422 (2013)

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
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-012-9339-6
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,379
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Paternalism.Gerald Dworkin - 1972 - The Monist 56 (1):64-84.
Paternalism.Gerald Dworkin - 1972 - The Monist.
A Theory of Freedom.Stanley I. Benn - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
In Defense of Hard Paternalism.Danny Scoccia - 2008 - Law and Philosophy 27 (4):351 - 381.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Seat Belt Mandates and Paternalism.Jessica Flanigan - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (3):291-314.
Seat Belt Mandates and Paternalism.Jessica Flanigan - forthcoming - New Content is Available for Journal of Moral Philosophy.
Rethinking Freedom of Contract.Jessica Flanigan - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (2):443-463.
Paternalism and Global Governance.Michael Barnett - 2015 - Social Philosophy and Policy 32 (1):216-243.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Normative Core of Paternalism.Kalle Grill - 2007 - Res Publica 13 (4):441-458.
A Trust-Based Argument Against Paternalism.Simon R. Clarke - 2013 - In Pekka Makela & Cynthia Townley (eds.), Trust: Analytic and Applied Persectives. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi. pp. 53-75.
A Definition of Paternalism.Simon Clarke - 2002 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 5 (1):81-91.
Political Liberalism, Basic Liberties, and Legal Paternalism.William Glod - 2010 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (2):177-196.
Physician-Assisted Suicide, Disability, and Paternalism.Danny Scoccia - 2010 - Social Theory and Practice 36 (3):479-498.
In Defense of Hard Paternalism.Danny Scoccia - 2008 - Law and Philosophy 27 (4):351 - 381.
Paternalism and Democracy.Marion Smiley - 1989 - Journal of Value Inquiry 23 (4):299-318.
Paternalism and Corporate Responsibility.David Crossley - 1999 - Journal of Business Ethics 21 (4):291 - 302.


Added to PP index

Total views
214 ( #54,273 of 2,519,681 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #406,314 of 2,519,681 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes