Essay about Autonomy vs Paternalism

989 Words Aug 28th, 2008 4 Pages
Focus: Discuss the advantages and disadvantages on autonomy and paternalism.

Decision-making would be so much easier if we all maintained our autonomy in making the decision, however, because our decisions do not always abide by autonomistic values paternalistic intervention must occur. The purpose of autonomy is to allow us to choose to do things that affect only ourselves and does not negatively affect those around us. Unfortunately, many choices do, whether we know it or not, involve those in our environment. Paternalism is in place to protect the rights that are in our best interest and that will benefit us in the long run. Paternalistic intervention occurs when decisions are no longer in our best interests. If the decision
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The disadvantages to paternalism is that most feel that they should be able to make their own decisions without having any interference. Paternalism is looked down upon when someone feels that their best interest was in the choice they made but paternalists feel differently. In the story of Rose Cipollone, paternalism was too late for her. She had been smoking from the age of 16, a very impressionable age, and though she attempted to quit many times, the loss of her autonomy caused the addiction to take over. Her smoking then caused cancer. The paternalistic view says that, at age 16, Rose’s decision may have been to smoke, but her decision later in life is to live. Had paternalistic intervention occurred when she was 16, she may not have liked it then, but knowing what she knows now, she would have been grateful later in life. This is an example of the decision being something you would regret later and being irreversible.

I believe that autonomy only goes so far in our decision making. Many of our decisions are made by paternalism. There are so many policies that protect our best interests that autonomy does not have much breathing room. I am a supporter of paternalistic intervention because I have seen what smoking has done to many people around me as well as to myself. Knowing the side effects and damage smoking can do, I do not see how someone can knowing choose to pick up a cigarette. I know it is an addictive habit because I was a smoker

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