Saturday, September 02, 2006

Is the State Necessarily Paternalistic?

Correspondence with a reader about my post, "The Feds and 'Libertarian Paternalism'," leads me to this observation:

The state is not paternalistic per se. The state acts paternalistically when it forces or incentivizes its citizens to behave in certain ways. But the state is not acting paternalistically when it shields its citizens and enables them to behave as they will, in accordance with the harm principle as it is properly understood (see below).

Related definitions:

paternalism - the attitude (of a person or a government) that subordinates should be controlled in a fatherly way for their own good

shielding - the act of shielding from harm

Related posts (with links to other related posts):
Another Voice Against the New Paternalism
The Meaning of Liberty
The Harm Principle
Footnotes to "The Harm Principle"
The Harm Principle, Again
Actionable Harm and the Role of the State
Rights and "Cosmic Justice"
Liberty, Human Nature, and the State