Paternalist Patrick and Pamela the Prostitute

Abstract submitted to a conference on political philosophy.

Paternalist Patrick effectively hinders Pamela the Prostitute from selling sex by following her everywhere, shouting at potential customers, taking pictures of them, and threatening to call them out in public. As a moral individualist, Patrick believes that interventions with a person’s life and liberties must be justified with regards to her specifically, and not with regards to her as a member of some social group. His interventions with Pamela’s business, Patrick argues, are justified as it is not Pamela’s “genuine wish” to sell sex. Pamela “does not really want to be a prostitute,” and “makes decisions that are not really hers.”

Patrick’s argument is about authenticity. More specifically, it is about the authenticity of desires; the basic component in preference forming. Paternalist interventions are justified if the targeted person holds non-authentic desires.

The argument assumes that the status of desires in terms of authenticity can be reliably observed. If it cannot, the justificatory force of Patrick’s argument is significantly weakened. I argue that the assumption is flawed, as the authenticity of desires cannot be reliably observed with reasonable means, and that the paternalist argument therefore fails.

My argument builds on a taxonomy of characteristics displayed by different theories of authenticity. The theories include, among others, Frankfurt’s, Dworkin’s, Meyer’s, Christman’s, Banner and Szmukler’s, and Elster’s. In the taxonomy, which takes a three-by-two shape, theories of authenticity can display sanctionist, originist, and coherentist characteristics. These are the taxonomy’s categories. In sanctionist theories, i.e., theories built on characteristics typical of sanctionist ideals, authenticity concerns the desire-holder’s attitude toward her desires. In originist theories, authenticity concerns the origin of a desire. In coherentist theories, authenticity concerns the coherence of a desire-holder’s set of desires. Furthermore, the characteristics can be either cognitivist or non-cognitivist. In cognitivist theories, authenticity is a matter of rational deliberation; non-cognitivist theories do not commit to that. These are the taxonomy’s classes. A theory can display characteristics from different categories (to different degrees), but the classes are mutually exclusive so that a theory is either one or the other.

No category, class, or combination thereof, enables an observer with reasonable means to reliably determine the status of a desire in terms of authenticity. Therefore, Paternalist Patrick’s argument does not justify his interventions with Pamela the Prostitute’s business.

My argument and the taxonomy contributes to autonomy theory and the debate on paternalism. It is applicable also in other contexts, such as, for instance, informed consent in bioethics: The validity of a patient’s or research subject’s consent to a medical intervention or research participation does not hinge on the authenticity of their desires. Although authenticity may be philosophically interesting, it remains practically meaningless in the present applications.

1 Response to “Paternalist Patrick and Pamela the Prostitute”


  1. 1 Rikard 23 mars, 2017 kl. 22:49

    Hej.

    Intressant resonemang.

    Vad händer när PP/PtP skall bedöma huruvida en gärning har avsikt i situationen brottmål/tvistemål?

    Personligen anser jag att endast konsekvens skall bedömas, då min avsikt med att kasta stenar över axeln från ett hustak svårligen kan utrönas.

    Detsamma gäller PtP; är hon tvingad (vapenhot, utpressning eller jämförbart direkt tvång) och har det för henne direkt negativa konsekvenser (ej bestående av andras beteende utifrån moraliskt ställningstagande till hennes gärning), samt har det för annan direkt inblandad part negativa konsekvenser?

    PtP kan (o)vetandes smitta en kunden med en sjukdom (eller tvärtom, eller både och). En oönskad konsekvens för bägge troligen.

    PP skulle kunna moderera sin ståndpunkt i riktning ”Detta finns, och kan inte fås att sluta finnas. Hur göra för att minimera lidande och maximera behållning?”

    En annan tanke som väcktes: skulle inte autenticitet kunna ses som mer sannolikt sann ju närmare primära drifter och behov den specifika gärningen är?

    Kamratliga hälsningar,
    Rikard, fd lärare


Kommentera

Fyll i dina uppgifter nedan eller klicka på en ikon för att logga in:

WordPress.com Logo

Du kommenterar med ditt WordPress.com-konto. Logga ut / Ändra )

Twitter-bild

Du kommenterar med ditt Twitter-konto. Logga ut / Ändra )

Facebook-foto

Du kommenterar med ditt Facebook-konto. Logga ut / Ändra )

Google+ photo

Du kommenterar med ditt Google+-konto. Logga ut / Ändra )

Ansluter till %s




Doktorand i filosofi som bloggar för att bejaka skrivlusten. Läs mer här.

Senaste inläggen