Between Autonomy and State Regulation: J.S. Mill's Elastic Paternalism
Philosophy, Volume87, Issue04, October 2012, pp 557-582
21 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2012
Date Written: 2012
This paper analyses J.S. Mill's theory on the relationships between individual autonomy and State powers. It will be argued that there is a significant discrepancy between Mill's general liberal statements aimed to secure individual largest possible autonomy and the specific examples which provide the government with quite wide latitude for interference in the public and private spheres. The paper outlines the boundaries of government interference in the Millian theory. Subsequently it describes Mill's elastic paternalism designed to prevent people from inflicting harm upon others as well as upon themselves, from soft paternalism on issues like compulsory education to hard paternalism on very private matters such as marriage, having children, and divorce by consent.
Keywords: J.S. Mill, individualism, autonomy, soft/hard/elastic paternalism, state interference, regulation
JEL Classification: B30, B31, H00, H1, H10, H11, H19, H4, H40, H41, H42, H49, I2, I20, I28, I3, I30, I31, I39, P4, P40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation