Paternalism

For Your Own Good

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Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism by Sarah Conly (Cambridge University Press, 2013), 256 pages (ebook edition reviewed). Bowdoin philosophy professor Sarah Conly has given us a remarkably timely book. Against Autonomy makes an important contribution to the trending discussion of what some call the “nanny state” and others might call simply “petty fascism” (or maybe just “fascism”). It is ... [click for more]

The Nuclear Nudging of Your Food Choices

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In the book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, the “choice architect” Cass R. Sunstein describes his idea of “libertarian paternalism.” The paternalism aspect refers to “nudging” people in a desired direction, for example by putting photos of rotted lungs on cigarette packages. The libertarian aspect refers to not actually stripping people of the freedom to choose. ... [click for more]

Bloomberg’s Soda Policy: The End Doesn’t Justify the Means

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The debate incited by Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to outlaw supersized sodas in New York misses an important point. In the mayor’s words, “We’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things. We’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup” (emphasis added). There it is. He wants ... [click for more]

Time for a Drink

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While eating in a restaurant in the Atlanta airport recently, I noticed that the restaurant’s bar was closed and — to make it perfectly clear — all the chairs had been turned over and placed on the bar. Now, although I don’t frequent bars in airports or anywhere else, I was nevertheless intrigued. “The bar doesn’t open ... [click for more]