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FSU PHI 2630 - Paternalism and Liberty

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Ethical Issues & Life Choices Notes for Exam 2Paternalism and LibertyPaternalism● What is paternalism?○ A policy or practice of treating or governing people in a fatherly manner, especially byproviding for their needs without giving them rights or responsibilities.Paternalistic Laws● Laws that restrict a person’s freedom for his/her own good.● Promote morals, health, safety, economic wellbeingPromoting Morality● Sexual behavior● Divorce● Adultery● Polygamy● PornographyPromoting Health and Safety● drug use● helmet use● seat belts● vaccinations● suicide, selfmutilation● building codes● jaywalking● voluntary euthanasia● professional licensing● hazingPromoting Economic Welfare● minimum wage● working hours● working conditions● gambling● social security● unemployment insurance● medicareJustifications for paternalism● Mill can admit 3 justifications for paternalistic laws, based on conditions of agency○ coercion (do you have a choice?)○ incompetence (are you able to choose?)○ ignorance (do you know enough to choose?)Conservative justifications for paternalism● Character (Plato, Aristotle)○ good society requires virtuous people○ requires formation of good habits○ requires paternalistic laws to guide people○ laws not just for adults; to mold children into responsible adults● Tradeoffs (Burke)○ Pluralism: liberty is one value among others  social order, happiness, prosperity, morality,religion, strength, civility, peace, dignity○ Sometimes, other values take precedence over liberty● Tradition (Burke)○ Tradition is the product of reasoned choices○ Tradition is best guide to making choices that conform to our nature○ REspect for tradition engenders virtues (dignity, gravity, humility, caution) needed formaking choicesLiberal Justifications for Paternalism● Justice: exploitation○ coercion: do you have a choice?○ incompetence: are you able to choose?○ ignorance: do you know enough to choose?○ concern: are you being used?● Risk (It’s too dangerous!)○ We should allow people to run reasonable risks○ Some risks are unreasonable:■ harm too great■ probability of harm too great■ potential gain too small○ People are often unable to evaluate reasonableness themselves● Support: insurance against weakness of will○ Weakness of Will: knowing the better and doing the worse; doing what you don’t want towant to do○ Lowerorder desire: i want X○ Higherorder desire: I don’t want to want X○ Liberty consists in following higher order desire*sleep cycle appFreedomWhat do we mean by freedom?○ Negative Freedom: freedom is a lack of external obstacles (freedom of speech)○ Positive Freedom: freedom is a lack of internal obstacles; the ability to act in accordancewith one’s rational or autonomous desires.Mill, On Liberty● Under what circumstances may power be legitimately exercised by society over individuals?● When is it permissible for states to interfere in the actions of the citizens?Mill’s Harm Principle● “The only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over any member of a civilizedcommunity, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.Harm and the Sphere of Liberty● Which action are protected by the harm principle?○ Selfregarding actions○ Otherregarding actions● Objections○ The notion of harm is vague○ Mill allows that private immorality can harm society○ Cooperative systems give other people the right to insist on good behaviorLiberty and RightsDrug LegalizationBenefits● Benefits of liberty○ benefits from drug use○ benefits from experiments in living○ limiting choices harms everyone by limiting informationLiberty● Drug users are agents○ Free○ Voluntary○ Informed● They don’t threaten rights of others● Can we legitimately restrict their actions?Critique of Government Action● You care most about your own good;● You know most about your own goodCosts● Costs (Estimated)○ courts (case loads, costs, delays)○ police ($20 billion/year)○ prisons ($10 billion/year  half the prison population there for drugrelated offenses)● Lost tax revenue: $10 billion/yearIncreased Harms● Enforcement is ineffective● Increased harms from drugs○ Switches to stronger, more easily concealed drugs with higher profit margins○ no controls on quality, strength, and contamination○ no information about reasonable useRates of ImprIsonment● US has highest of any other nation● (Georgia, Texas, Florida, California have huge numbers)Arguments for Drug LawsReasons why we should not legalize drugs  they should stay criminal.Harms to Users○ Drug laws succeed in discouraging use○ Legalization would increase harms to users■ more use, including underage use■ more addiction■ more illnesses, overdoses, deaths■ less recovery; treatment succeeds only when compulsoryHarm to Others○ Associates of users: family, friends, coworkers, customers, unborn○ Victims of users: victims of accidents, violence, crime○ Everyone else: increased health care, insurance costs, lost productivityWilson  Against LegalizationTwo principles behind Friedman’s argument○ ethical principle  governments have no right to tell people not to use heroin (or otherdrugs)○ Economic principle  the criminalization of drugs imposes costs on society that far exceedthe benefitsThe risk of legalization is not that bad○ Nadelmann argues that we only have to worry about 3% of people becoming binge users○ Why? 20 million people between 18 and 25 reported trying cocaine, but only 250,000 use itdaily.○ So, at most 3% of people who try cocaine will develop a problem with it.An error in Nadelmann’s argument○ Wilson claims that Nadelmann’s argument rests on a logical fallacy and a factual error○ 1. The fallacy is that the number of occasional users who become binge users will remainthe same.○ 2. The factual error is that Nadelmann’s statistics were gathered before the use of crackcocaine became widespread.PornographyThe Problem of Porn● Should the government restrict access to/ban pornography?● Mill would say: Would not be in favor of a ban on pornography. He’d be fine with restrictions.Liberty/Harm Principle.● Aristotle?What is porn?● Some attempted definitions:● “I know it when I see it.” Justice Stewart● “Verbal or pictorial material which represents or describes sexual behavior


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