Liberty and Paternalism

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 371
  • Published : October 8, 1999
Open Document
Text Preview
LIBERTY AND PATERNALISM

John Stuart Mill and Gerald Dworkin have distinctly opposing views on legal paternalism in that Mill is adamantly against any form of paternalism, whereas Dworkin believes that there do exist circumstances in which paternalism is justified. Both agree that paternalism is justified when the well being of another person is violated or put at risk. Mill takes on a utilitarian argument, explaining that allowing an individual to exercise his freedom of free choice is more beneficial to society than deciding for him what is in his best interests. Dworkin, on the other hand, feels that certain cases require the intervention of either society as a whole or its individual members. He breaks Mill's argument down into two distinct types, one based on utilitarianism and one based on the absolute value of free choice.

After reading both articles, "Paternalism" by Dworkin and "On Liberty" by Mill, I believe that Dworkin is correct in explaining that some intervention is necessary under certain circumstances. I have come to this conclusion based on the fact that there do exist circumstances in which an individual is incapable of making a rational decision considering not only the well being of himself, but also the well being of other members of society. Also, the argument that the protection of the individual committing the action in question is not reason enough to interfere with the action is ludicrous in that one of our governments main reasons for existence is to protect the members of our society. This protection includes protection from ourselves at times when we are unable to rationally decide what is in our best interests. This essay will consist of an examination of this controversy as well as an application of my proposed conclusion.

Before addressing any opposing views to my conclusion, I will first explain my reasoning. As Dworkin explains in his essay, there are circumstances when a person is unable to make a rational and...
tracking img