Anti-paternalism and Invalidation of Reasons
2010 (English)In: Public Reason, ISSN 2065-7285, Vol. 2, no 2, 3-20 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Joel Feinberg’s anti-paternalism can be interpreted as a doctrine of invalidation of reasons, implying that reasons which concern a person’s good are excluded, on moral grounds, from influencing the moral status of actions that limit her liberty. Invalidation of this kind is distinct from moral side constraints and from lexical ordering of values and reasons. Anti-paternalism as invalidation, though a relatively favourable interpretation, is morally unreasonable on at least four grounds, even if we accept people’s view of their own good at face value. First, it entails that we should sometimes allow people to severely harm or kill themselves though we could easily stop them and they don’t intend to harm themselves. Second, it entails that we should sometimes disregard reasons that concern a person’s good, even if the person herself is in perfect agreement on the strength and validity of the reasons, and is judging and acting perfectly voluntary. Third, it entails that there are peculiar jumps in justifiability between very similar actions where one is barely sufficiently voluntary and the other not quite sufficiently voluntary. Fourth, it indirectly entails a disregard for the liberty of those who all agree should sometimes be coerced in their own interest, but who nevertheless are partially autonomous, such as people in their lower teens. For all of these reasons, we liberals should reject anti-paternalism and focus our efforts on explicating important liberal values, thereby showing why liberty reasons sometimes override strong personal good reasons, though never by making them invalid.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 2, no 2, 3-20 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-146801OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-146801DiVA: diva2:399036