• De

23. Workshop

Libertarian paternalism

Libertarian paternalism is becoming more and more widespread. For example, it uses the findings of behavioral economics to encourage people to make healthier decisions without directly restricting their freedom. The federal government’s health policy support measures are an apt example of this. Campaigns against smoking, alcohol consumption and unhealthy eating are designed to encourage people to make healthier choices.

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) runs numerous programs to influence the health behaviour of the population and to reduce diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which cause a large proportion of healthcare costs or place a heavy burden on them.

The crux of the matter is that even if it were effectively established that someone is willfully shortening their life by drinking a few too many glasses or preferring to lie on the sofa instead of running on the track, a liberal state is not allowed to impose rules on citizens, provided they bear the consequences themselves.

Because in a liberal state, the individual decides on their preferences. John Stuart Mill said 157 years ago that the community may only exercise power over the individual in order to prevent disadvantages for others: “He cannot be legally compelled to do or refrain from doing something because it would be better for him.”

Translated in DeepL