Paternalism and Liberal Democracy: An Ambiguity to Clarify
Between paternalism and the basic principles of liberal democracy there is a total contrast. Paternalism is set up as a way to justify political power, whose structure, built on the model of paternal power, and strengthened by religious seal, provides the ideological framework in support of a monarchic power. Its long historical hegemony, challenged by the social contract theories of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ended with the advent of the modern representative state, founded on the principle of individual autonomy. Not surprisingly, the argumentative strategy of today’s advocates of paternalism is mainly focused on trying to limit the exercise of autonomy. The vice of origin of these settings lies in the belief in one of the many versions of the objectivist meta-ethics, whose perfectionism is yet another variant. Although not fully achievable in pluralist societies – because of majority rule, that is the only realistically applicable in decisionmaking contexts in which disagreement about values is inherent – the ideal of individual autonomy is essential to liberal democracy. The alternative would be the monistic society (if they would be possible) that are nonconflictual, cherished by the old and the new paternalism.
Keywords: paternalism, liberal-democracy, autonomy, pluralism
Parole chiave: paternalismo, liberal-democrazia, autonomia, pluralismo