Paternalistic Intervention

Paternalistic Intervention: The Moral Bounds on Benevolence

Donald VanDeVeer
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 466
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztfbj
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Paternalistic Intervention
    Book Description:

    Donald VanDeVeer probes the moral complexities of the question: under what conditions is it permissible to intervene invasively in the lives of competent persons--for example, by deception, force, or coercive threat--for their own good? In a work with broad significance for law, public policy, professional-client relations, and private interactions, he presents a theory of an autonomy-respecting" paternalism.

    Originally published in 1986.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5406-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-9)

    The vast majority of those reading this sentence are, no doubt, former children. Hence, it should not be difficult to recall those occasions when, as children, we felt “knocked about” or hemmed in by constraints placed on us. Our urge to choose for ourselves, to explore, to experiment, to find our own way, to “do it ourselves,” to take responsibility for our own lives was, at times, almost viscerally felt—like the awakening sexual inclination of an adolescent. Yet, to one degree or another, we were domesticated by barriers placed by adults. We were often told that when, and only...

  5. ONE THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF PATERNALISM
    (pp. 10-44)

    It is a significant, although hardly a new or deep, insight that the ways in which people interact with one another are enormously diverse. In some cases people cause severe harm to others and/or infringe the moral or legal rights of others. In many of these latter cases few of us have serious doubts that the actions in question are wrongful, that such acts violate some rather stringent duties we have toward others. For example, consider ordinary homicide, rape, torture, child abuse, or enslavement. About such acts we feel no “moral perplexity”; we sense no “moral dilemma” about what we...

  6. TWO APPEALS TO CONSENT
    (pp. 45-94)

    Let us call the ultimately complete and rationally justified ethical theory the Ultimate Theory. Whether it is couched in terms of certain basic rights or duties, or both, there is good reason to believe that the Ultimate Theory will allow the moral relevance of a certain type of consent, that on such a theory consent will serve to justify or partially justify acts otherwise presumptively wrongful. This claim is notentirelyuncontroversial but it is better to postpone consideration of objections to it to Chapter 3. Even if the Ultimate Theory allows for the moral relevance of consent, it may...

  7. THREE APPEALS TO DOING GOOD
    (pp. 95-163)

    There was something paradoxical about the saying, heard during the era when the United States was involved in the Vietnam War, that “we had to destroy this village to save it.” Analogously, since we regard possession of liberty as something good for persons or part of a person’s “own good,” there is something paradoxical about one way paternalistic action has been characterized (by others), that is “interference with a person’s liberty for his own good.” It sounds a bit like “stealing from you to make you wealthier.” The paradox, however, is superficial since possession of a modicum of freedom is...

  8. FOUR THE DOCTRINE OF INFORMED CONSENT
    (pp. 164-223)

    Although we might want all social institutions to be structured to promote human well-being, it is clear that only in some does the promotion of human good or the prevention of harm occupy an especially direct and prominent place. In some a great deal isat stake. Hence, how parents raise their children, how people are educated, and how sick persons are treated are all important matters. We do not expect a physician, nurse, clinical psychologist, social worker, genetic counselor, dentist, or teacher to operate on the principle ofcaveat emptor(let the buyer beware), even though we directly or...

  9. FIVE DEATH, SEX, ODYSSEUS AND THE SIRENS
    (pp. 224-301)

    In the first three chapters our focus was on the concept of paternalism and the identification and assessment of claims regarding what sorts of paternalistic intervention are permissible. Much of the theoretical foundation for assessing constraints on specific practices was laid. In the fourth chapter the doctrine of informed consent was analyzed and appraised in the light of theoretical considerations developed earlier. Further, the implications of the doctrine and the Theory of Autonomy-Respecting Paternalism were traced with regard to the use of coercion, deception, and withholding information from patients in health-care contexts. Hence, we began to make the transition to...

  10. SIX PATERNALISTIC LIMITS ON RISK TAKING
    (pp. 302-344)

    Understandably, dramatic and extreme acts such as terrorism, torture, euthanasia, suicide, and abortion, among others, grab our attention. In a stark way they press us to make hard decisions and explore recalcitrant issues. By contrast, various other issues promise to fall “between the cracks”; some seem more mundane. For example, may we coercively (e.g., by law) require persons to wear motorcycle helmets while cycling, seat belts while driving, or purchase air bags for cars? Should we prohibit or constrain drug usage, hang gliding, skate boarding, smoking, drinking alcohol, or rock climbing? May we tax citizens to enforce such policies, to...

  11. SEVEN OUR DEALINGS WITH INCOMPETENTS
    (pp. 345-421)

    Prior to turning to moral questions about our dealings with incompetent persons, some further clarification of the concept of general incompetence is in order. If we recognize the category of generally incompetent persons as a legitimate one, it is tempting to think that certain forms of paternalistic restriction toward them are permissible, which fail to be acceptable in dealings with competent persons. This general point I accept, but as soon as we begin to contemplate (as we do in 7.2) what principles are to guide us, perplexities arise. These in turn force us to return at later points to reconsider...

  12. EIGHT OVERVIEW, RESERVATIONS, AND IMPLICATIONS
    (pp. 422-448)

    Our examination of the moral permissibility of paternalistic intervention is largely complete. In this last chapter some basic themes will be reviewed, some lingering reservations and anticipated objections addressed, and a limited effort made to sketch some of the implications of the theory defended here for some broader questions.

    Many of our efforts, both privately and in concert with others (through government and other social institutions), are aimed at warding off threats to the welfare-interests of persons, for example, death, disease, poverty, injury, and alienation. As such we are often concerned to avoid or prevent the harms associated with bad...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 449-452)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 453-453)