Siinviidatu leidis oma koha põhjusel, et paternalistlikud praktikad on ühiskonnas laialt levinud ja igapäevakäitumises läbiimbunud. Nii mulle tundub, kui vaadata valitsejate käitumist elanike suunal, juhtide käitumist alluvate suunal, vanemate käitumist laste suunal, sõprade omavahelist käitumist … Tõsi, ma ei väida, et tegemist on ainult paternalistlike mustritega, kuid need on siiski üsna reljeefselt nähtavad. Ma ei väida ka ei head ega halba paternalismi kohta, vaid seda, et igaühel võiks võimalus olla paternalismist mõelda. Ja kui selle teksti oled läbi lugenud (=mõelnud), siis võib ehk asuda seisukohale, et ka viimatinimetatud vaatenurk on üks paternalismi vormidest.
According to this defence, since human beings are often prey to systematic cognitive biases and reasoning errors, the state may paternalistically interfere with citizens to help them make better choices, without violating their rights or respect for their preferences. This defence of paternalism is not only used to justify libertarian paternalism (Sunstein and Thaler, 2009) but is also sometimes used to justify coercive paternalism which is the main focus of this article (Conly 2012; De Marneffe 2005, 120; Van de Veer 1988, 438; Dworkin 1972; Rawls 1971, 249).
In this article, I argue that both the rationality-based defence of paternalism and the respect-based objection to paternalism are problematic for a similar reason: both views treat citizens disrespectfully because they conceptualize the citizens’ interests from the wrong standpoint.
‘Coercive paternalism’, as I shall use the term throughout this article, refers to coercive interference with the liberty of individuals for their own good without their consent. […] A major objection against paternalism, thus deﬁned, is that although paternalistic action is ostensibly intended to advance another person’s own good, it is actually motivated by one’s insulting judgement that since the other is too obtuse or weak-willed to do what’s best for themselves, they should be compelled by a third party to do what’s best for themselves.
According to Rawls, one of the deﬁning features of moral personhood that entitles a person to equal justice is the capacity to rationally form and pursue their own goals and values (Rawls 2005, 19; Rawls 1999, 442).
According to the rationality-based defence of paternalism, it would be compatible with respect for citizens as moral equals to restrict the choice not to wear seatbelts, the choice to spend now rather than save for later or the choice to take addictive and dangerous drugs for immediate pleasure, since these choices are usually motivated by some glitch in the chooser’s rational system.
Inimesed vajavad ometi kaitset!
Sarah Conly describes this view most straightforwardly. ‘We should save people from doing things that are gravely bad for them when they do that only as a result of an error in thinking… Sometimes the only way to stop someone from making a terrible mistake is to intervene and prevent him from choosing freely’ (Conly 2012, 3–4). The core argument of coercive paternalism then, is that irrationality or mistaken judgement makes paternalistic interference permissible.
This seems sufﬁcient to show that as long as experts deﬁne the citizens’ interests from the third-person standpoint of a detached observer who does not share the perspectives of the citizens themselves, they cannot avoid the substantial risk of imposing alien values on citizens and thereby disrespecting them. More generally, these arguments show that paternalistic coercion carried out in the name of promoting other people’s ‘rational interests’ is impermissible, because in most cases, it involves imposing an arbitrary ranking of values on others.
In order to express respect for citizens as equals in this sense, however, I have argued that experts and policymakers must try to understand the reasons that underlie citizens’ judgements about their interests through a critical conversational exchange with citizens, instead of blindly accepting their reasons without knowing why they should be accepted (a la laissez-choisir anti-paternalism) or rejecting their reasons on the basis of some idealized conception of rational choice (a la rationality-based defence of paternalism). But engaging in such a critical process of understanding citizens, as I have illustrated above, functions as a distinctive form of paternalistic intervention in its own right.
Kim, S. J. (2022). Paternalism, respect and dialogue. Philosophy & Social Criticism. https://doi.org/10.1177/01914537221088342