Who's Afraid of the Nanny State? Introduction to a Symposium

Public Health, Vol. 129, No. 8, pp. 1017-1020, 2015

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 15/75

5 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2015

See all articles by Roger Magnusson

Roger Magnusson

The University of Sydney Law School

Paul E. Griffiths

University of Sydney - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Charles Perkins Centre

Date Written: September 17, 2015

Abstract

The ‘nanny state’ has become a powerful symbol in debates about the merits of public health policies. In rhetorical terms, associating a policy proposal with the nanny state is to disparage and spoil it, at least in western, liberal democracies where individuals have become highly sensitised to the risks of state intrusion into the private domain. Debates about the nanny state are not new. However, they have a particular salience when it comes to laws and policies for reducing behavioural or lifestyle-related risk factors including tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, poor diet and obesity.

This paper introduces a symposium of 10 papers published in Public Health, the Journal of the Royal Society for Public Health (UK): 2015; 129(8): 1015-1134. It reviews key themes and arguments from each paper. The contributions come from authors in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand who draw on a variety of disciplines including public health, law, philosophy, bioethics, and marketing. One motivation for the symposium was to provide an opportunity to explore and unpack the meaning of nanny state rhetoric, and where appropriate, to defend the role of governments in protecting the health of the population.

Keywords: Public health law, governance, nanny state, libertarianism, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), health

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Magnusson, Roger and Griffiths, Paul E., Who's Afraid of the Nanny State? Introduction to a Symposium (September 17, 2015). Public Health, Vol. 129, No. 8, pp. 1017-1020, 2015; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 15/75. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2662273

Roger Magnusson (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Paul E. Griffiths

University of Sydney - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Charles Perkins Centre ( email )

Australia

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