Critical Philosophy Paper
I will be discussing John Stuart Mill’s views on paternalism. I will argue how I feel about the subject. Then I will try my best to put myself into Mill’s shoes, argue back and try to see if I can understand where he is coming from with his arguments on paternalism. I plan on saying that there should be certain types of laws for different types of paternalistic acts, weak and strong for example. The laws should depend on what goes on when that act occurs and also after that act. I have strong views against Mill on the general way that he explains paternalism, but when I read more into depth Mill really says what I think should really be done.
My view toward paternalism is somewhat different from that of Mill because Mill believes that there should be a law only against someone harming someone else. I believe that this is a start. Let’s say that you have a strong relationship with a person who all of a sudden wants to kill himself or herself. It would be morally wrong not to try to stop that person from killing him or herself, because you are emotionally attached to that person and their death will in turn hurt you so such. That person might have meant the world to you and now that he or she is gone you might start to feel that there is no point in living also and then you pretty much start a change reaction of bringing everyone down around you. Also, I am not saying that this should be the only reason for stepping in if someone is trying to commit suicide, it is just one of many reasons.
Mill would probably go right to the word “morally” and would likely say, “Should we base all our laws on morals”? Then he might say: “if you believe that then, whose morals should we base them on”? All people’s morals are not the same. Everyone does not think alike. Some might think if, that person does not want to live then let him or her be, let him or her do their own thing and get it over with, we do not need people on this earth like that. Some of the others might not care one-way or the other. The last few would agree with me about stopping the person from committing suicide. I feel it would be morally wrong not even try to stop that person from committing suicide. Usually a person that wants to commit suicide is not mentally sane in the way of making a decision to kill him or herself. So, it would not be consented to harm which then it would be morally wrong to not try to stop them, this would be an example of weak paternalism. If a person was suffering in a hospital bed and wanted to pull the plug the it would be consented to harm to oneself and would be morally wrong to stop that person, because you will be causing that person more harm that if they were dead, this is an example of strong paternalism. If Mill explained his weak and strong paternalism better then, I would have agreed with him from the beginning.
Indecent exposure could possibly be harmful to a person because I have met a girl here at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and she can barely stand some words that come out of people’s mouths and for someone to expose him or herself could quite possibly traumatize her or some people like her to do this would be strong paternalism. It is morally wrong to expose oneself to others, unless you have the consent of that person, if you do not then it is common sense not to expose yourself to others. Pretty much the only time you would get consent is when you and your partner are about to do some sort of sexual oriented activity or at a strip club, this is an example of weak paternalism because at a strip you can choose to go inside or not. You know what goes on behind those walls, so you pretty much waive your rights to having someone not expose him or herself to you.
Mill might say that someone should not be offended or harmed by a person exposing him or herself in public. He might say that people have a choice whether to look or not. This would make some sense if that person were not traumatized at first glance. Mill might even go so far as; he has a right to expose himself in public if he would like. In the example you read to us, when the man used a portable toilet and pretty much let everyone see what he was doing, I believe that his actions would gross out and somewhat traumatize many people in this world.
Morals once again should be what laws are based on, because if they were not, this world would be in complete chaos. Men, women, children could do whatever they wanted to do, rob banks, beat-up people, and even kill people without any consequences to worry about at all. I also agree with Mill that something might be morally wrong for one person and not another. So I would still go with the majority on the morality judgment. Most of the laws are based on majority anyway. Seatbelts, drunk driving, assault, robbery and murder are defiantly in the majority of not allowing them to be committed without a penalty.
Seatbelts are lifesavers, and people who wish not to wear them are fools. There is a law about seatbelts because they save people’s lives. If a person wants to cause an inconvenience to someone, Mill says this is all right. Say that I pop a person’s tires, which would be an inconvenience to someone. What if that person became very ill and had to go to the hospital extremely quickly and could not because I popped his or her tires on his or her car. So, by me popping the tires on the vehicle in turn made that person die because that person did not receive the treatment needed to help his or hers situation. I believe that would be considered manslaughter, because it is just like if you take a Stop sign down and a person almost wrecks, then that would be an inconvenience to the person in the car, but if a person is killed because you took down that sign, you would probably be brought up on manslaughter charges and most likely found guilty.
I believe that Mill would say that a person has the right not to wear a seatbelt if his or her feels like not wearing one. He might say that it is his or hers life in jeopardy and he or she can do whatever he or she would like with his or her life. He might also say that no one has control over any other person, so if they choose to not think twice about wearing a seatbelt, then let his or her find out the hard way about crashes. I sometimes do not wear my seatbelt in my car because sometimes I have a mind set that “it will not happen to me”, so a person might figure why waste the few seconds it takes to put a seatbelt and have that inconvenience of that material rubbing your neck when you can get off to a quicker start and not have a strap rubbing your neck at all times while driving. This would be an example of strong paternalism because the law enforces the seatbelt law with extreme prejudice.
Now, I agree with inconvenience to oneself should not have a law against it at all. For example, you willingly leave your windows open and then it rains outside later on in the day. Your seat is wet when you ride to work. That sort of stuff happens and you cannot really make a law about a person inconveniencing him or herself because he or she usually know what him or her is getting into when he or she does his or her act or acts. In some cases he or she might not know what he or she is doing because of an overpowering emotion. If a person takes a bat to his car because he or she cannot fix it, then he or she has to deal with paying for new windows and stuff like that. When he or she realizes that all he or she had to do was reconnect the battery cables or something real simple like that, then he or she would see the actual inconvenience that he or she could have saved him or herself by keeping it cool and trying all options again instead of losing his or her temper. That is just one example why I believe that there should not be a law against someone inconveniencing him or herself for doing something stupid and ignorant.
I believe that Mill is wrong in most of his arguments, on the “cover”, but once you read more into depth about his weak and strong paternalism then he has some valid points that I agree with completely. If he would have explained the weak and strong paternalism part straight out instead of making the reader read an assume that this is what he meant then a lot of people would agree with what he is trying to say. Since he did not do that except for when he said there should be a law about a person harming someone else I did not really take sides with him at all, until I read more into depth. I am just a person that likes to help people as much as I can. I think about people more that I think about myself. So if I can stop someone from harming him or herself, then I am going to try to do it. So, in conclusion I believe that all people have the same rights, it is just what they decide to do with them is what is wrong.