Sanfter Paternalismus, meritorische Güter, und der normative Individualismus
Paternalism is an attempt to influence the decisions of individuals for their own benefit even if there are no third parties involved. This seems to be a contradiction to normative individualism which provides the general orientation of our modern democracies. Soft or libertarian paternalism accepts the necessity of paternalism due to the existence of behavioural anomalies, but intends to apply only such measures that do not restrict the decision leeway of individuals. Nevertheless, the same objections which can be raised against its strong version can also be raised against soft paternalism. On the other hand, as soon as we accept that human beings are able to reflect not only on their actions but also on the preferences guiding them, there exists no longer a necessary contradiction between paternalism and normative individualism. As far as we know today, the possibilities to successfully apply soft paternalistic measures are rather limited. On the other hand, while some of its criticisms are justified, others are largely overshooting the mark and seem at least partly to be ideologically motivated.
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