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Are laws that protect us from our own dangerous behaviors (such seat belt or helmet) morally acceptable - Essay Example

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Are laws that protect us from our own dangerous behaviors (such seat belt or helmet) morally acceptable

Controversies over the laws which are basically designed for protecting people from dangerous behavior are problems of paternalism. Paternalism is interference in people’s freedom though it is for their own good. It is like a father making decisions for his kids instead of letting the kids make decisions for them, considering one important thing that father knows best. Wide range and variety of laws, practices and actions are taken into account which is under the principles of paternalism. More like a doctor or physician deciding what is best for his patients and the laws which are designed to restrict the use of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and other drugs. Such plans also include compulsory retirement plans, mandatory seatbelt laws which are designed to protect one’s interest whether they are liked by the people or people detest them. All these paternalistic practices are common, but the question is whether these practices are morally accepted or not. There is conflict of two important values attached with paternalism which include the value is taken into account for protecting and also promoting well being of others, along with the value which is associated with the freedom of persons which make their lead their life according to their wish and choice. When the people are ready to act in certain ways oppose to their own well being and security , an important question arises that are the laws justified which interfere in people’s private choices and matters. This is what leads to the problem of paternalism. There is a majority who would agree that paternalism becomes a justified thing when it is about a person who has limited and also impaired freedom of choices whether the cause of this is limited cognitive capacities or even the ignorance of facts, effects of a disease, influence of drugs and another reason can be due to coercion. Paternalism varies depending on the person, their emotional stability and behavior along with the capacity to understand and know what is best for them. According to many moral philosophers, a competent and a knowledgeable person should be allowed to make decisions freely and they should not be over ridden, though they are for their own person’s good. There was a case voiced by John Stuart Mill who was a British philosopher during the nineteenth century, according to him the only reason due to implement and make laws for the citizens and people of civilized community is to prevent problems and harm to others. Will of one’s own being is not enough physically and even morally. The laws are made for a collective society and laws which are beneficial and important for protecting the society over all. According to Mill, it was important to provide freedom as it is important and crucial for people’s individual personality development. Along with that people should be given a free hand for making choices they wish and like even if the choices are not the best ones. All these individual choices creates ability for people to make decisions and their decision making power will only improve their practices and experiences. Another important view which he holds was that individuals are the best judge for ...Show more


There were various protests in Los Angeles due to the law passed by the California court according to which all the motorcyclists are suppose to wear helmets. Bikers wanted this law to be changed as they wanted freedom of choice, people who wants to wear it can wear it and people who are not interested in wearing them, will not wear it…
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Are laws that protect us from our own dangerous behaviors (such seat belt or helmet) morally acceptable essay example
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