Internal and External Paternalism

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I introduce a new distinction between two types of paternalism, which I call 'internal' and 'external' paternalism. The distinction pertains to the question of whether the paternalized subject's current evaluative judgments are mistaken relative to a standard of correctness that is internal to her evaluative point of view - which includes her 'true' or 'ideal' self - as opposed to one that is wholly external. I argue that this distinction has important implications for (a) the distinction between weak and strong paternalism; (b) the distinction between soft and hard paternalism; and (c) medical practice, where internal paternalism can, and probably often does, occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCanadian Journal of Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 27 2023


  • Autonomy
  • liberty
  • medical ethics
  • soft and hard paternalism
  • weak and strong paternalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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