Public Health Ethics (forthcoming)

Paternalist policies in public health often aim to improve people’s well-being by reducing their options, regulating smoking offering a prime example. The well-being challenge is to show that people really are better off for having their options reduced. The distribution challenge is to show how the policies are justified since they produce losers as well as winners. If we start from these challenges, we can understand the importance of the empirical evidence that a very high proportion of smokers regret smoking. In short, it is important that they regret it and important that the proportion is so high. This paper explains how, philosophically, regret can relate to well-being and it considers some of the strengths and weakness in the empirical research that the explanation brings out. The regret case for regulating smoking is indeed strong, although not as strong as the empirical researchers think. It is much weaker for paternalistic intervention in other public health problems, such as obesity and binge drinking.
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DOI 10.1093/phe/phab002
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References found in this work BETA

Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics.L. W. Sumner - 1996 - Oxford University Press.
Equality and Priority.Derek Parfit - 1997 - Ratio 10 (3):202–221.
Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism.Sarah Conly - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (5):349-349.
Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics.Bruce Brower & L. W. Sumner - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (2):309.

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