An Argument Against the Justification of Paternalistic Laws in the United States

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Locke, Jonathan
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University Honors College Middle Tennessee State University
In this thesis, I propose a framework through which laws may be analyzed to give a baselevel judgment of the law’s justifiability. According to this framework, a law must be outward-facing, motivated by something other than personal morality or religious ideology, and have a punishment equal to the action it prohibits to be justifiable. I then use this framework to analyze several laws classified as paternalistic in nature throughout the United States. First analyzed is cannabis prohibition laws, which fail all three tenets of the framework and is thus deemed unjustifiable. Next analyzed are seatbelt and motorcycle helmet requirements, which are also marked unjustifiable. Finally, coercive censorship is examined through the framework, also being rated unjustifiable. After using the framework to argue against the justification of these laws, I then employ the framework to show how mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic are justifiable.
College of Liberal Arts, Philosophy, Politics, Political, Libertarianism, Paternalism, Nozick, Cannabis, Censorship, Justification, Justifiable, Justified