This book explores one of the major social questions of the twenty-first century: whether the government should save people from themselves. More specifically, it considers whether there are circumstances when the state, or the government of the state, should intervene to protect individuals from the possibly damaging consequences of their own decisions, even if those decisions affect only themselves, and even if the individuals concerned made the decisions while in full possession of their faculties and of all the relevant information. In other words, whether government paternalism can be justified. The book asks whether allowing the government to be the agent of paternalism creates a “nanny state” that invades the autonomy of the individuals concerned and potentially infantilizing them. Finally, it examines what form a paternalistic intervention should take and to what extent the rationale or consequences of government policies may be regarded as wholly or partly paternalistic.
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