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Government PaternalismNanny State or Helpful Friend?$
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Julian Le Grand and BILL New

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164373

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164373.001.0001

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What Is Paternalism?

What Is Paternalism?

(p.7) 2 What Is Paternalism?
Government Paternalism

Julian Le Grand

Bill New

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the various definitions of government paternalism and paternalistic policies that political philosophers and others have put forward, with particular emphasis on their strengths and weaknesses. It considers the three components of these definitions: there is interference in the individual's freedom or autonomy; such interference aims to promote the individual's own good; and there is an absence of individual consent. The chapter argues that all these components, especially the first, present conceptual difficulties. It suggests that paternalism must be defined not in terms of intervention or of its consequences, but in terms of (a failure of) individual judgment. It therefore proposes a definition that does not refer to coercion but instead incorporates this view of the government's intention. It concludes that government intervention is paternalistic with respect to an individual if it is intended to address a failure of judgment by that individual and to further the individual's own good.

Keywords:   government paternalism, interference, freedom, consent, intervention, coercion, judgment, autonomy

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