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Responsibility, paternalism and alcohol interlocks
Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University.
Delft University of Technology.
2012 (English)In: Public Health Ethics, ISSN 1754-9973, E-ISSN 1754-9981, Vol. 5, no 2, 116-127 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Drink driving causes great suffering and material destruction. The alcohol interlock promises to eradicate this problem by technological design. Traditional counter-measures to drink driving such as policing and punishment and information campaigns have proven insufficient. Extensive policing is expensive and intrusive. Severe punishment is disproportionate to the risks created in most single cases. If the interlock becomes inexpensive and convenient enough, and if there are no convincing moral objections to the device, it may prove the only feasible as well as the only justifiable solution to the problem of drink driving. A policy of universal alcohol interlocks, in all cars, has been proposed by several political parties in Sweden and is supported by the National Road Administration and the 2006 Alcohol Interlock Commission. This article assesses two possible moral objections to a policy of universal interlocks: (i) that it displaces the responsibility of individual drivers and (ii) that it constitutes a paternalistic interference with drivers. The first objection is found unconvincing, while the second has only limited bite and may be neutralized if paternalism is accepted for the sake of greater net liberty. Given the expected technological development, the proposed policy seems a commendable health promotion measure for the near future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 5, no 2, 116-127 p.
Keyword [en]
Alcohol Ignition Interlocks, Drink Driving, Drunk Driving, Paternalism, Responsibility
National Category
Philosophy Ethics
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60688DOI: 10.1093/phe/phs015OAI: diva2:562312
Available from: 2012-10-24 Created: 2012-10-22 Last updated: 2012-12-05Bibliographically approved

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Grill, Kalle
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