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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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Paternalism and Policy

Paternalism and Policy

(p.147) 8 Paternalism and Policy
Government Paternalism

Julian Le Grand

Bill New

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the impact of actual paternalistic policies, some of which are already in place, on well-being and autonomy. It first describes four principal types of policy intervention that are potentially paternalistic: interventions involving legal restrictions, those involving taxation or negative financial incentives, those involving subsidy or positive financial incentives, and those arising from libertarian paternalism. It then discusses three areas where paternalistic interventions could be (and/or have been) considered: smoking, pensions, and assisted suicide. In the cases of pensions and smoking, the chapter argues that there is evidence of significant reasoning failure, which justifies some form of intervention, provided that the impact on autonomy can be minimized. With respect to assisted suicide, there is relatively little evidence of reasoning failure for the individuals concerned, and hence paternalistic intervention to prevent assistance is not justified.

Keywords:   well-being, autonomy, intervention, legal restrictions, libertarian paternalism, paternalistic intervention, smoking, pensions, assisted suicide, reasoning failure

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