Autonomy vs Paternalism

Topics: Choice, Smoking, Addiction Pages: 3 (982 words) Published: August 21, 2008
Focus: Discuss the advantages and disadvantages on autonomy and paternalism.
Decision-making would be so much easier if we all maintained our autonomy in making the decision, however, because our decisions do not always abide by autonomistic values paternalistic intervention must occur. The purpose of autonomy is to allow us to choose to do things that affect only ourselves and does not negatively affect those around us. Unfortunately, many choices do, whether we know it or not, involve those in our environment. Paternalism is in place to protect the rights that are in our best interest and that will benefit us in the long run. Paternalistic intervention occurs when decisions are no longer in our best interests. If the decision is like to be regretted and irreversible in the future, paternalism is again justified. Autonomy is a fleeting concept, for as soon as someone chooses to do something that will later cause an addiction, his or her autonomy is lost. They no longer have the decision to do or not to do the action; it becomes a need.

Autonomy does have its advantages and disadvantages. One perk to autonomy is that it allows us to make decisions that we feel are in our best interests, as long as they either, do not affect those around us or are beneficial for them as well. As long as choices made based on autonomy are a result of the person acting on relevant, settled, preferred, and their own preferences; paternalistic intervention is not justified. However, autonomy is one of the easily lost characteristics. As I mentioned above, once an addictive substance has entered your life due to an autonomistic decision, your autonomy is lost. The addiction takes over and you can neither choose to have this addictive substance, nor choose not to have it. It controls your life and compels you to keep using it, therefore your decision is no longer your own. An example of this is any type of drug. Cigarette smoking is an excellent example. Most...
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