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In Defence of Age-Differentiated Paternalism

New publication by Viki in Greg Bognar, and Axel Gosseries (eds), Ageing without Ageism? Conceptual Puzzles and Policy Proposals (Oxford, 2023; online edn, Oxford Academic)



This chapter examines age discrimination from the perspective of age-differentiated paternalism. Many people share the intuition that paternalism is less problematic when applied to children than to the elderly. The chapter examines this intuition by considering not only the dimensions of competence and voluntariness but also the magnitude of the good promoted by paternalistic interventions. While this dual account does not generally challenge common-sense intuitions about paternalism, it introduces additional complexity when evaluating paternalistic interventions in a wide range of cases where age plays a part. The chapter considers many examples, from age-differentiated rules for access to sterilization, through age-differentiated fines for not using a helmet, to age-differentiated prices for cigarettes.