Moralism and moral paternalism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The primary goal of this chapter is to identify the difference between moralism and moral paternalism. Both are understood here as views about the eligibility of reasons for government policy. What is the difference, then, in the reasons they hold to be eligible? The difference is explained by reference to T.M. Scanlon’s distinction between impersonal and personal reasons. Moralism holds that impersonal reasons should be counted in favor of government policy; moral paternalism holds only that a subset of personal reasons should be counted - those involving “moral harm.” This analysis is used to identify the content of Joel Feinberg’s “legal moralism” and “moralistic legal paternalism” and to explain the difference between them. Two further questions are then addressed. First, is there any reason to identify moral harm with harm to a person’s character, as Feinberg and others do? Second, is legal moralism consistent with an interest-based account of individual rights?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Paternalism
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781317326991
ISBN (Print)9781138956100
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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