Justifying Government Paternalism, Beyond J.S. Mill Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Christensen, Devin
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Recent scholarship on paternalism has rarely strayed from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, in which the protection of liberty and respect for individual exercises of reason are offered as the only grounds for justifying paternalistic government interference in the private affairs of individuals. However, Mill’s restricted universe of moral discourse cannot exhaust the moral economy from which we draw when justifying government interference, including paternalistic interference, given pluralist commitments. If we are committed to pluralism, then we must accept 1) that normally competent, rational adults will inevitably disagree about what the good life entails, and these disagreements cannot be resolved on the basis of reason alone and 2) that citizens could consent to paternalistic interference for a plurality of reasons which are not reducible to liberty. I suggest that paternalistic mitigation of certain kinds of individual vulnerability offers an example of justified paternalism which cannot be explained in Millian terms.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Bickford, Susan
  • Lienesch, Michael
  • Spinner-Halev, Jeff
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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