Philosophy Prof. Conly Defends the ‘Nanny State’

Sarah-Conly128Assistant Professor of Philosophy Sarah Conly defends New York City’s controversial attempt to ban large sugary drinks in a New York Times op-ed today.

Conly is the author of the new book Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, which argues that recent research by psychologist and behavorial economists shows we don’t always rationally choose the best options for ourselves.

“It’s not always worth it to intervene, but sometimes, where the costs are small and the benefit is large, it is,” Conly writes. “That’s why we have prescriptions for medicine. And that’s why, as irritating as it may initially feel, the soda regulation is a good idea. It’s hard to give up the idea of ourselves as completely rational. We feel as if we lose some dignity. But that’s the way it is, and there’s no dignity in clinging to an illusion.”

Watch Sarah Conly talk about her new book, and view other lectures and discussions on Bowdoin Talks.

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