Legal Paternalism

Douglas N. Husak

in The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780199284238
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Legal Paternalism


This article's central interest is to examine the special philosophical difficulties that arise in attempts to think about paternalism in legal contexts. Most moral philosophers have focused on personal relationships in their efforts to understand both the nature and the justification of paternalism. That is, they have endeavoured to identify the conditions under which what they define as paternalism might be justified in situations in which one person (for example, a parent, a doctor, or a friend) interacts with another person (for example, a child, a patient, or a friend). The article is largely concerned with the problems that inhere in efforts to apply to the domain of law any theories about paternalism that might be derived from these personal contexts. It proposes tentative solutions to several of these problems.

Keywords: legal paternalism; moral philosophy; personal relationship; philosophical difficulties; personal autonomy; soft paternalism

Article.  12939 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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