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Fair GovernancePaternalism and Perfectionism$
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Francis H. Buckley

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195341263

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195341263.001.0001

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Social Perfectionism

Social Perfectionism

(p.157) nine Social Perfectionism
Fair Governance

F. H. Buckley

Oxford University Press

A subject's actions may have the third party spillover effects which economists call externalities. What you do affects others, for good or for ill, and this may supply a reason to restrict your freedom. John Stuart Mill descried this, as an invitation to tyranny. This assumes that legislating morality is a slippery slope, and that any move to enforce morals will necessarily lead to extremism and abuse. However, this is an empirical proposition, and the evidence in western countries is that liberal regimes can adopt moderate forms of perfectionism without tumbling into a holy fascism. These issues were discussed fifty years ago in a debate between H. L. A. Hart and Lord Devlin.

Keywords:   externalities, Coase Theorem, physical externalities, moral externalities, harm-to-others principle, Hart-Devlin debate, disintegration thesis, public reasons

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