Concern and Coercion: Paternalistic Justification of Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractInvoluntary psychiatric treatment of persons with mental disorders is a very complicated and controversial issue. The following essay will present a paternalistic justification of the practice of involuntary treatment in reply to Thomas Szasz's criticism that such action is hostile to libertarian principles. First, the essay will present the case Szasz makes against coercive psychiatry. Subsequently, the paper will respond to this criticism in three parts. First, the paper will present a theoretical defense of the legitimacy of psychiatry made by George Graham. Secondly, an argument in favor of paternalistically motivated involuntary treatment will be made based on Gerald Dworkin's theory of paternalism, which appeals to the notion of hypothetical consent and a concern for autonomy. Third, an argument will be presented for a relaxation of the standards of responsibility for those with mental disorders, appealing to the involuntary nature of mental disorders. Subsequently, the circumstances that must be met for involuntary treatment to be justified in practice will be explored and presented. Finally, possible objections to the arguments made for paternalistic coercive psychiatry will be acknowledged and addressed.
Degree ProgramHonors College