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Justifying Hard Drug Prohibition from Soft Legal Paternalism


Lu Yuchen

About Lu
BSc Philosophy and Economics student. His main fields of interest are ethics, philosophy of economics and philosophy of charity.
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In this essay, I appeal to the Principle of Legal Paternalism in order to justify the State in restricting individuals' access to drugs. Importantly, instead of providing a separate philosophical defence for Legal Paternalism, I accept the Harm Principle as it is and aim to show that Soft Legal Paternalism, which is perfectly in line with the Harm Principle, is strong enough to justify drug prohibition. By considering the ways in which the decision to take drugs might fail to be genuinely voluntary, my strategy in this essay is to raise the burden for permissible drug use incrementally. While an outright philosophical justification for prohibition remains challenging, I show that the extremely high bar of permissible drug usage warrants access to drugs an exception rather than the normal. As a matter of efficient public policy, the State is justified to continue current prohibition on hard drugs.

How to Cite: Yuchen, L., 2017. Justifying Hard Drug Prohibition from Soft Legal Paternalism. Rerum Causae, 9(1), pp.1–10.
Published on 01 Jan 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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