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date: 23 September 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article's central interest is to examine the special philosophical difficulties that arise in attempts to think about paternalism in legal contexts. Most moral philosophers have focused on personal relationships in their efforts to understand both the nature and the justification of paternalism. That is, they have endeavoured to identify the conditions under which what they define as paternalism might be justified in situations in which one person (for example, a parent, a doctor, or a friend) interacts with another person (for example, a child, a patient, or a friend). The article is largely concerned with the problems that inhere in efforts to apply to the domain of law any theories about paternalism that might be derived from these personal contexts. It proposes tentative solutions to several of these problems.

Keywords: legal paternalism, moral philosophy, personal relationship, philosophical difficulties, personal autonomy, soft paternalism

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