Sarah Conly, author of Against Autonomy, offers her expert opinion to our Book Club debate on the ethics of paternalistic choice.
Should other people be allowed to make decisions for us, even when those decisions are in our best interest? Can I be trusted to make my own choices? What are these New York City soda restrictions all about? Six contributors to the new book Paternalism: Theory and Practice address these questions and more in a virtual roundtable discussion.
It’s no secret that soda isn’t good for us. It’s rotting our teeth, giving us brain cancer, and sending our risk for diabetes off the charts. So when Mayor Bloomberg instituted the soda-size restrictions that will go into effect across New York City on March 12, he did it for our own good—but he also raised a huge question about paternalism, or the kinds of decisions other people can make for us when it’s in our best interest.
Yin and Yang are so familiar that they have practically become English words, although people usually pronounce yang incorrectly (it should rhyme with the English words “tong” or “bong,” not with “sang” or “hang”). Yin and yang are invoked whenever someone wants to discuss opposites that are complementary, or wants to appeal to goals of harmony and balance.
Perhaps “Anti-Christ” is too strong? After all, Singer is a chaired professor at Princeton University and arguably the world’s most influential living philosopher. However, many Christians consider him to be a leader of a “culture of death”, especially given his very public support of infanticide and euthanasia of the mentally disabled.