Against Dworkin's Endorsement Constraint

T. M. Wilkinsona1

a1 University of Auckland, [email protected]


Ronald Dworkin argues on the basis of a theory of well-being that critical paternalism is self-defeating. People must endorse their lives if they are to benefit. This is the endorsement constraint and this paper rejects it. For certain kinds of important mistakes that people can make in their lives, the endorsement constraint is either incredible or too narrow to rule out as much paternalism as Dworkin wants. The endorsement constraint cannot be interpreted to give sensible judgements when people change their minds about the value of their lives. And the main argument for the endorsement constraint, which is based on the value of integrity, does not support Dworkin's anti-paternalism.