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Title: Saving Paternalism: The Case for Deliberative Intervention
Authors: Kim, Suzie
Advisors: Pettit, Philip
Patten, Alan
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Criminal law
Deliberative democracy
Jurgen Habermas
Public reason
State Paternalism
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In liberal societies, the very idea of paternalism tends to elicit repugnance. Yet, many laws justified by paternalistic reasons are still widely regarded as reasonable: consider seatbelt laws or laws forbidding the recreational use of heroin. These conflicting views suggest that paternalistic interference by the state may be permissible in some cases. But existing views, I argue, fail to provide a consistent principle we could use to distinguish cases in which paternalistic interference is permissible from cases in which it is not. This dissertation argues that the permissibility of paternalistic interference in any given case must be decided by the outcome of deliberation in ideal conditions between all concerned. To establish this claim, I start with a criticism of the two existing major views on paternalism. The first view (Absolute Anti-Paternalism), which never allows paternalistic interference in voluntary choices, is untenable because it rests on a conceptually flawed distinction between “irrational” and “unreasonable” choices. The second view (Balancing Strategy), which permits coercive interference whenever the state deems that the balance of all relevant considerations weighs in favor of interference, is also problematic, because it allows government officials and experts to coerce citizens based on their arbitrary judgment of the relative value of different choices. Building on this critique, I claim that the permissibility of paternalistic interference should be determined by the criterion of “reasonableness” – not as it is determined by a few experts and government officials, but instead, as it is determined by a process of deliberation between all affected citizens. I call this third alternative the Deliberative Intervention Strategy. The Deliberative Intervention Strategy can be applied to public policy in various ways, but I focus on three specific policies: a license requirement coupled with deliberative opinion polling; documentaries and public campaigns; and mandatory counselling. The argument of this dissertation also has relevance to general debates about the requirements for legitimate state coercion. I argue that the legitimacy of state coercion requires justifiability to all those affected on the basis of reasons that they could endorse in ideal deliberative conditions, rather than equal benefit to all those affected.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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