This chapter explores whether it is justifiable for a state to discourage an individual from using recreational drugs. It focuses on paternalist arguments—that is, arguments that appeal to the idea that a state may intervene in an individual’s life for their own good. The chapter argues against the justifiability of these policies, except in some extreme cases. It offers three arguments for the anti-paternalist claim that a state may not intervene in an individual’s life for their own good. These are that there is value in an individual acting autonomously; that it is disrespectful to intervene in an individual’s life for their own good; and that an individual is a better judge of their interests than the state. The chapter also examines whether it is justifiable for a state to intervene in an individual’s life for their own good when that individual is misinformed about the options. In the case of recreational drugs, the appropriate response to misinformation is to educate an individual about the effects of drugs, rather than to discourage their use. Finally, the chapter outlines some implications of this argument for the design of drug policy.
William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton
This chapter examines two related, but distinct, political concepts — justice and freedom. It first considers various possible constraints on freedom before discussing the degree to which freedom is desirable. It then explores various alternative values that might conflict with freedom, mainly in the context of John Stuart Mill’s political thought; these include equality, paternalism, and happiness. The chapter proceeds by analysing the concept of justice and various criteria for determining its meaning in the context of the major competing theories of justice provided by John Rawls and Robert Nozick. Finally, it evaluates alternative theories of justice which challenge the conventional liberal view that theories of justice should focus only on the nation-state and are applicable only to human beings.