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Robin Hanson on Medical Paternalism

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Robin Hanson discusses paternalism, and the need to check our intuitions about intervening in other people’s decisions, in a thoughtful short article, including a parable about when it is appropriate to stop someone from walking near the edge of a cliff. The article primarily focuses on the moral basis for public health interventions, such as drug regulation and physician licensing, and presents models that illustrate problems with trusting someone else’s judgment of what’s best for you.

An excerpt:

Do you support imposing limits on the food and drugs people can buy, or the medical advisors they can choose?

If you want to convince yourself and the rest of us that your support for such paternalism is based on more than a simple arrogant presumption that people like you can run other people’s lives better than they can, you should make some effort to explain to yourself and the rest of us exactly why you think your paternalism is justified.

Full article here.


Written by Sister Y

April 22, 2008 at 1:55 am

An Introduction

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The moral issue of suicide has usually been stated in terms of whether suicide is morally permissible, under any circumstances. For instance, Michael Cholbi puts the question this way:

Are there conditions under which suicide is morally justified, and if so, which conditions?

This formulation assumes a major premise: that it is the suicidal person who must justify his refusal to live, rather than the community being required to justify the action of forcing him to live. These notes will focus on the moral reprehensibility of forced life, rather than attempt to justify suicide from a defensive perspective.

Written by Sister Y

March 24, 2008 at 6:50 am