interests -Reply

Tom Meisenhelder tsmeisen at
Wed Apr 12 21:17:56 MDT 1995

I think jwalker is right but I don't like it.  Sure saying you know what
is in some people/person's interests implies that they ought to do what
follows and if you know their interests when they don't it may be that you
could/should tell them how best to act --even if that action is not what
they desire.  But then again don't we also believe that critical analysis
and thought reveals to the analyst knowledge not necessarily seen by the
actors themselves.  So do we just eat this special knowledge of ours or
what?   Its possible that we must demonstrate its validity to those it is
about but what if they refuse to accept it anyway?  Just thinking out
loud.  Tom>
 >  >
> On Wed, 12 Apr 1995, Lisa Rogers wrote:
> >
> >
> > >>> Justin Schwartz <jschwart at>  4/12/95,
> > 09:02am >>>
> >
> > In the following Lisa Rogers says that talk about interests--what's
> > good for you--threatens to justify paternalism. I think this is a
> > mistake.
> >
> >
> > >>>>It wasn't just me, I was responding to John Walker, but you have
> > clarified the issue admirably.  I agree with you, Justin.
> >
> > Lisa
> >
> Well, I think Lisa was right to be antsy about talk of what's in people's
> interest, once that's separated from what people actually (happen to)
> desire.  It may be true that noting that something is in a person's
> interest even though they don't think it is, isn't strictly speaking
> sufficient to justify coercing that person to do that thing.  But that's
> the sort of consideration people invoke when they _do_ want to justify
> paternalism.
> What's more, interest-talk does seem to establish _some_ sort of case for
> getting people to do things.  For if something's in your interest, then
> it'd be good for you to do, have, or be that thing.  And if it'd be good,
> then that sure _sounds_ like a reason, of some strength, to do it.
> There may be countervailing reasons, of course.  But they're not all that
> easy to find and articulate.  As you note, Justin, Mill's case against
> paternalism is epistemological, and hence it's contingent and
> rebuttable.  I wonder if there's a better one.
> Cheers,
> John D. Walker
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