The Double-Edged Sword: Paternalism as a Policy in the Problems of Aging

Paternalism-coercive or deceptive interference in a citizen’s life for his own good-is much in evidence in our policies regarding the aged. Some argue that paternalism is an unwarranted denial of individual liberty, for doubtful societal gain. Others contend that freedom has but instrumental value, and the aged cannot always use it effectively to aid in pursuit of their own happiness. The philosophical and political choices made on behalf of the aged must be understood as imperfect compromises.

Author(s): Thomas Halper

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Volume 58, Issue 3 (pages 472–499)
Published in 1980