Abstract
Paternalism is the restriction of a person's autonomy for the good of that person. It embodies a familiar conflict of intuitions: while we cherish individual freedom, we also want to protect/promote what we know to be good. So, every paternalist must meet two challenges: paternalism must be justifiable as a restriction of autonomy as well as effective in terms of well-being. In this essay, I argue that the ‘autonomy’ restricted by paternalism is a Razian brand of free self-authorship and that the ‘good’ protected is captured by Martha Nussbaum's account of personal well-being. I then defend a mild welfare paternalism based on a dichotomy implicit in any defensible description of well-being. I argue that some aspects of the good life do not require endorsement and, therefore, can be justifiably and effectively promoted by autonomy-restricting means. Finally, I discuss why paternalism need not be hostile to ethical independence.
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1080/20403313.2015.1116200
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