John Stuart Mill and Sarah Conly have opposing views on the necessity and justifiability of paternal coercion in a state. This essay will present their views regarding the justifiability of state intervention in the case of sugar tax. I will show what arguments both would use to justify their own opinion and at the end present my own arguments in order to argue that sugar tax would not be the ideal solution but coercive paternalism would still be necessary, although used in a slightly different way.
In his book “On Liberty” Mill states that the only time individuals or society as a whole can interfere with individual liberty is for self-protection and that coercion by the many toward the individual is only acceptable when that specific individual poses a threat to others. This is known as the harm principle: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."
Sarah Conly’s book “Against Autonomy” proposes many counterarguments to the liberalist approach of Mill. One of her most interesting arguments in defense of coercive paternalism is that “while in some cases autonomous action does no harm, in other cases it does, however ‘harm’ is construed – as detrimental to happiness, detrimental to material survival, or even detrimental to the promotion of autonomous action.” It is really interesting because it claims that perfect autonomy would be detrimental to itself. To give