Paternalism and duties to self

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Abstract / Description of output

Paternalism is usually justified by appeal to how it promises to promote the well-being of its beneficiaries. But if individuals have duties to self, then that would seem to offer another rationale for paternalism, namely, that paternalism can benefit individuals morally by aiding in the fulfillment of their self-regarding duties. Using Kant’s account of duties to self as model, I highlight three crucial features of duties to self; defend duties to self against four common objections; and consider the implications that the existence of such duties has for the justification of paternalism. While paternalistic interventions could not compel individuals to fulfill their self-regarding duties, they could encourage their fulfillment via incentives that foster their fulfillment. In large measure, debates about paternalism oriented toward encouraging others to fulfill such duties are likely to rehash familiar disputes about beneficence and the justification of interfering with choices that do not affect others. However, because duties to self are duties of virtue, requiring that they be fulfilled because of the adoption of particular ends, then to the extent others are volitionally responsible for duties to self being “met,” the duties become unmoored from the “historical” values that lend the duties their rationale.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Paternalism
EditorsKalle Grill, Jason Hanna
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781315657080
ISBN (Print)9781138956100
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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