Essay On Paternalism

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Public health is an approach aimed at protecting and promoting the health and well-being of populations (Kass 2001). Given its population-based focus, however, public health is frequently faced with issues regarding the appropriate extent of its reach and whether its activities infringe on personal freedom in ethically unjustified ways (Kass 2001). Often public health interventions involve or require government action (Faden, Ruth, Shebaya & Sirine 2010) such as a law that makes it an offence not to wear a seat belt when in a moving vehicle. In this case, the central issue raised is that of autonomy and paternalism since many view mandatory seatbelt laws as an unacceptable violation of the freedom of citizens. In this essay I will argue that restricting a person’s freedom is warranted since the interests of personal safety and those of society as a whole outweigh the slight harm of infringing individual autonomy. I will use the concept of paternalism and the theory of consequentialism to justify mandatory seat belt laws as well as the argument that there exists a cost to society and…show more content…
In other words, it involves interfering with a person’s freedom in order to protect the individual from harm (Dworkin 2012). There are various types of paternalism. Soft paternalism involves limiting the freedom of someone who has compromised decision-making abilities, whereas hard paternalism involves limiting the freedom of competent individuals (Dworkin 2012). Mandatory seatbelt laws are hard paternalism and it seems more difficult to justify than soft paternalism because it undermines human freedom. However, many philosophers believe that in certain cases, paternalism can be
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