Abstract: In this paper, I argue that a definition of paternalism must meet certain methodological constraints. Given the failings of descriptivist and normatively charged definitions of paternalism, I argue that we have good reason to pursue a normatively neutral definition. Archard’s 1990 definition is one such account. It is for this reason that I return to Archard’s account with a critical eye. I argue that Archard’s account is extensionally inadequate, failing to capture some cases which are clear instances of paternalism. I refine each of his three conditions, ultimately providing an improved definition of paternalistic interference. This revised definition meets specific methodological constraints, offering a definition that is both neutral between anti- and pro-paternalistic intuitions, but that also explains why paternalism is normatively significant. Specifically, this definition captures the conflict between interfering with an individual’s choices and treating the individual benevolently, without making paternalism permissible or impermissible by definition.
Comment: This paper updates Archard's attempt to provide a normatively neutral account of paternalism, and would be a good further reading for any topic touching on paternalism.