Moral Issues of Paternalism and Truth-Telling

Topics: Morality, Truth, Ethics Pages: 3 (697 words) Published: September 20, 2009
bulacan state university
college of nursing

Mary josephine v. hernandez



Paternalism can be defined as interfering with a person's freedom for his or her own good. The word calls to mind the image of a father who makes decisions for his children rather than letting them make their own decisions, on the grounds that "father knows best." The principle of paternalism underlies a wide range of laws, practices, and actions? a physician who decides what is best for a patient, a sign prohibiting swimming without a lifeguard on duty, laws against voluntary euthanasia, laws restricting the use of heroine, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs, compulsory retirement savings plans, and mandatory seat belt laws. All designed to protect our interests, whether we like it or not.

Paternalism is widely regarded as being restrictive to the liberty and autonomy of individuals, and for this reason it is often opposed.

While paternalistic practices are relatively common, are they morally acceptable? Paternalism involves a conflict of two important values: 1) the value we place on the freedom of persons to make their own choices about how they will lead their lives, and 2) the value we place on promoting and protecting the well being of others. When people freely choose to act in ways that seem contrary to their own well being, the question of whether we are justified in interfering with their affairs, the problem of paternalism arises.

Although it is not in their nature, paternalistic systems must realize that their goals are best achieved by persuasion rather than force.  Harding must realize that it needs to teach students how to reason as independent moral actors, rather than just as obedient rule-followers.  The paternalistic rules, by their very existence, undermine the ability of the individual to develop a personal moral compass that can be used as a guide beyond the confines of...
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