List journal issues    
Home List journal issues Table of contents Subscribe to PAQ


Volume 29 • Number 3

July 2015



Paternalism, Autonomy, and Food Regulation

by Maura Priest

In 2012, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed legislation that would ban the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. The growth of the obesity epidemic suggests that proposals for similar measures will increase in coming years. As public health officials' focus shifts, campaigns against smoking are being replaced with campaigns against sugar, fat, and carbs. Governments may be quick to propose regulations that incapacitate our ability to make bad health choices. Prima facie, it may seem that any inquiry into the justificatory grounding of Bloomberg's proposal or other "food bans" would be nothing more than re-engagement with familiar issues regarding paternalism, coercion, liberty, and respect for persons. Governments have a long history of approving legal mandates concerning smoking, narcotics, seat belts, vaccinations, and more. Philosophical discussions on the aforementioned have a prolific literature, and Bloomberg's ban might seem like just an addition to the list. If so, we should simply re-engage old arguments and apply them to the matter at hand. But this would be a mistake.

view PDF



Home | Issue Index
© 2015 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Content in Public Affairs Quarterly is intended for personal, noncommercial use only. You may not reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, modify, create derivative works from, display, or in any way exploit the Public Affairs Quarterly database in whole or in part without the written permission of the copyright holder.

ISSN: 2152-0542