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Liberalism and Prostitution$
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Peter de Marneffe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195383249

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195383249.001.0001

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The Permissibility of Paternalism

The Permissibility of Paternalism

(p.65) 3 The Permissibility of Paternalism
Liberalism and Prostitution

Peter de Marneffe

Oxford University Press

Although some paternalistic government policies are morally wrong, not all are. Even some “hard” paternalistic policies are morally justifiable. This position is consistent with a due respect for individual autonomy. J. S. Mill's arguments in On Liberty fail to provide good reasons to think that all paternalistic prostitution laws are unjustifiable. Recent academic critics of prostitution laws, Lars Ericsson, Martha Nussbaum, and David Richards, fail to give convincing grounds to oppose all paternalistic prostitution laws. The contractualist views of John Rawls and T. M. Scanlon provide no reason to believe that paternalism is always wrong. The cliché that “it is not the government's business to protect us against ourselves” is considered and rejected as a basis for opposing paternalistic prostitution laws.

Keywords:   paternalism, hard paternalism, autonomy, definition, J. S. Mill, On Liberty, Lars Ericsson, Martha Nussbaum, David Richards, John Rawls, T. M. Scanlon

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