Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (5):350-351 (2014)

Jonathan Pugh
Oxford University
In this response piece, I argue that the ‘coercive paternalism’ that Sarah Conly endorses in her book Against Autonomy veers towards a back-door perfectionism. Although Conly points out that coercive paternalism does not mandate the imposition of alien values upon us in the same way that perfectionism does, I argue that coercive paternalism might yet impose an alien weighting of our own values; this, I suggest, means that coercive paternalism remains perfectionist in spirit, if not in letter. I go on to concede to Conly that coercive paternalism might be warranted in preventing actions that threaten health and that are only carried out on the basis of cognitive error. However, I conclude by claiming that we must take great care about what we presume that people are consuming only on the basis of cognitive error. More specifically, I suggest that it is crucial that we avoid defining our terms in such a manner that it becomes impossible for agents to choose some action that poses a risk to their health without them being accused of making a cognitive error in weighing their values in that way
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1136/medethics-2013-101556
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: 52,704
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Autonomy, Rationality, and Contemporary Bioethics.Jonathan Pugh - 2020 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Working Hard and Kicking Back: The Case for Diachronic Perfectionism.Antti Kauppinen - 2008 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (1):1-10.
Against Two Modest Conceptions of Hard Paternalism.William Glod - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (2):409-422.
Political Perfectionism and State Paternalism.Thomas Schramme - 2009 - Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft Und Ethik 14 (1):147-166.
Debate: State Paternalism, Neutrality and Perfectionism.Simon Clarke - 2006 - Journal of Political Philosophy 14 (1):111–121.
Pure Perfectionism and the Limits of Paternalism.Christopher Tollefsen - 2013 - In John Keown & Robert P. George (eds.), Reason, Morality, and Law: The Philosophy of John Finnis. Oxford University Press. pp. 204.
Two Approaches to Epistemic Defeat.Jonathan Kvanvig - 2007 - In Deane-Peter Baker (ed.), Alvin Plantinga. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 107-124.
11 Paternalism in Mental Health–When Boots Are Superior to Pushkin.Tom Burns - 2011 - In Thomas W. Kallert, Juan E. Mezzich & John Monahan (eds.), Coercive Treatment in Psychiatry: Clinical, Legal and Ethical Aspects. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 175.
Boxing, Paternalism, and Legal Moralism.Nicholas Dixon - 2001 - Social Theory and Practice 27 (2):323-344.


Added to PP index

Total views
37 ( #261,024 of 2,340,044 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #241,877 of 2,340,044 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes