Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

9-24-2010

Graduate Advisor

Eric Wiland, Ph.D.

Committee

Anna Alexandrova

Stephanie Ross

Eric Wiland

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate a form of soft paternalism put forth by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein known as libertarian paternalism. On their view, criteria are provided for distinguishing between justified and unjustified libertarian paternalism policy proposals. The central philosophical issue surrounding libertarian paternalism is determining when limitations on autonomy for the sake of beneficence are justified. However, the criteria given by Thaler and Sunstein are inadequate because they do not effectively overcome problematic case examples. I contend that an additional autonomy-based condition should be added to their criteria. Specifically, autonomy may trump beneficence in favor of rejection of a policy if certain crucial autonomy considerations are violated.

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