Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Milling around

Over at a couple of weeks ago, Aaron Ross Powell wrote a clever and insightful critique of a recent attempt to justify more paternalistic intrusion into our lives.  Sarah Conly, an assistant professor of philosophy at Bowdoin College and author of Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, invokes the work of John Stuart Mill -- an 19th century political philosopher (a classical liberal hero to some; to me he was, at best, an inconsistent supporter of truly limited government -- in defense of her view the public should be forced to do some things that she feels are good for it.  Powell, using large soda consumption as his tool, shreds Conly's view by repeatedly showing how she misused and misinterpreted Mill's works.  And when a correct reading of Mill is rendered, Conly's position is actually inconsistent with Mills's.  If you like a little intellectual gamesmanship and a little intellectual history, Powell's article, available here, might be for you.