Collateral Paternalism and Liberal Critiques of Public Health Policy: Diminishing Theoretical Demandingness and Accommodating the Devil in the Detail

John Coggon, A.M. Viens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

Critical literatures, and public discourses, on public health policies and practices often present fixated concerns with paternalism. In this paper, rather than focus on the question of whether and why intended instances of paternalistic policy might be justified, we look to the wider, real-world socio-political contexts against which normative evaluations of public health must take place. We explain how evaluative critiques of public health policy and practice must be sensitive to the nuance and complexity of policy contexts. This includes sensitivity to the ‘imperfect’ reach and application of policy, leading to collateral effects including collateral paternalism. We argue that theoretical critiques must temper their demandingness to real-world applicability, allowing for the detail of social and policy contexts, including harm reduction: apparent knock-down objections of paternalism cannot hold if they are limited to an abstract or artificially-isolated evaluation of the reach of a public health intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Care Analysis
Volume28
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Collateral paternalism
  • Harm Reduction
  • Public Policy
  • Public Health Ethics

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