interests -Reply

jwalker jwalker at
Thu Apr 13 06:27:49 MDT 1995

Appreciate your reply, Justin.

> > 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.
> >
> Well, it's a reason for you to do it. It's not on the face of it a reason
> for you to be made to do it whether you want to or not.
Hmm.  The fact that it'd be good if you did it strikes me as a prima
facie reason
for me, and for everybody else, to try to get you to do it, by
whatever means we have available, because the state of affairs that would
result would be better.  But the difference we have here may stem from a
deeper difference in our thinking about where reasons come from, whether
they're agent-relative or agent-neutral, and so on.

> > 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.
> Well, all reasons are prima facie, contingemt and rebuttable.  As a parent,
> I take a very paternalist attitude towards my kids. When I was a teacher I
> was moderately paternalist towards mny students, though less so than many
> of my colleagues. As a society many people support various paternalist
> policies, e.g., about drug use. Paternalism ought to be regarded with some
> suspicion. But it isn;t false by definition.

Is this consistent with your thought that the goodness of your doing
something doesn't provide me with reason to get you to do it?  In this
paragraph you seem to think there's a paternalist case, a reason if you
will, that needs rebutting, at least in some cases and to some degree.

As to other grounds for
> nonpaternalis, how about my suggestion that choice and the freedom to make
> mistakes is a fundamental human interest which should be overriden only
> with great caution?
> --Justin Schwartz
Sounds good, and very Millian, to me.  Of course the paternalists think
that just choice as such isn't valuable -- it's choice based on reasons
that's valuable.  But then if the reasons on which one bases one's choice
are mistaken...

John Walker

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