Comments on Richard Arneson's Joel Feinberg and the Justification of Hard Paternalism
William A. Edmundson
Georgia State University College of Law
Legal Theory, Vol. 11, No. 3, 2005
In Arneson's view Feinberg's arguments against Hard Paternalism fail. This Comment first distinguishes different formulations of Feinberg's antipaternalism in order to uncover his grounds for denying there is any reason to use criminal sanctions to inhibit self-harming. The Comment then examines Arneson's proposed "secular sanctity-of-life" justification for criminalizing certain categories of self-harming. Although Arenson's proposal is in accord with our intuitions about hypothetical cases, the Comment shows it to involve a costly "ideal-regarding" concept of individual interests. The cost may be worth paying, but (Feinberg believed) its magnitude constitutes a powerful case against Paternalism.
Keywords: paternalism, legal moralism, harm principle, John Stuart Mill, Joel Feinberg
JEL Classification: K14
Date posted: June 12, 2008