You should be forced to buy this book

Aspiring philosopher-queen Sarah O. Conly is an assistant professor of philosophy at Bowdoin College.

A description of her Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, published by Cambridge University Press in 2012: “Against Autonomy is a defense of paternalistic laws; that is, laws that make you do things, or prevent you from doing things, for your own good. conly-aaI argue that autonomy, or the freedom to act in accordance with your own decisions, is overrated—that the common high evaluation of the importance of autonomy is based on a belief that we are much more rational than we actually are. We now have lots of evidence from psychology and behavioral economics that we are often very bad at choosing effective means to our ends. In such cases, we need the help of others—and in particular, of government regulation—to keep us from going wrong.”

Rumor has it that contrarian paternalists disagree violently, arguing that Conly should have been prevented by force from writing the book.

Conly’s faculty page indicates that her next book will be about the goodness of using force to prevent people from having the wrong number of children.

Related: Autonomy as a human need.

(Thanks to R.H., who knows what’s best for me, for sending the Conly link.)

24 thoughts on “You should be forced to buy this book

  • February 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I think these thoughts are relevant…

    “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

    “The fading of the critical sense [that bureaucracy leads to because government choice replaces individual discrimination] is a serious menace to the preservation of our civilization. It makes it easy for quacks to fool the people. It is remarkable that the educated strata are more gullible than the less educated. The most enthusiastic supporters of Marxism, Nazism, and Fascism were the intellectuals, not the boors …. [Statists] never take into account the possibility that the almighty government of their utopia could aim at ends of which they themselves entirely disapprove. They always tacitly assume that the dictator will do exactly what they themselves want him to do.”
    – Ludwig von Mises

  • February 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Revisiting your blog, Dr. Hicks, I noticed that I failed to attribute the quote I posted in the first comment properly. It is from Ayn Rand and can be found in her essay “What Is Capitalism?” which is in the anthology: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

  • June 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Oh to have a word from Joshua Chamberlain, a man of noble deeds, upon the ruin to which his dear Bowdoin College and the students entrusted to it, have been visited by the insidious, insipid, anti intellects of the PM left.

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