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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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Nanny State or Helpful Friend?

Nanny State or Helpful Friend?

(p.177) 10 Nanny State or Helpful Friend?
Government Paternalism

Julian Le Grand

Bill New

Princeton University Press

This chapter summarizes the book's arguments and uses them to address two central questions: whether a paternalistic government is necessarily a nanny state that infantilizes its citizens and illegitimately erodes their autonomy, or whether it could be a helpful friend that promotes their well-being without undermining autonomy. The chapter suggests that the book's arguments provide a solid foundation for deciding on the appropriateness of government paternalism in general, of different forms of paternalism, and of the various types of paternalistic interventions. It argues that most of the definitions of paternalism common in the literature are unsatisfactory and proposes an alternative: to define paternalism in relation to reasoning failure. It concludes with the assertion that the state—as a helpful friend rather than a nanny state—can help its citizens achieve their own ends, and thereby promote their own well-being and that of the whole society.

Keywords:   nanny state, autonomy, well-being, government paternalism, paternalistic intervention, reasoning failure

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