Debate Guide: Cyclical paternalism

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This argument is in effect the reverse of the liberty empowerment theory and is used to describe how paternalist/protectionist/parentalist/ageist practises in society will sometimes fulfil their supporters' prophecies that such measures will be required.

This argument (in relation to the concept of consent) is summed up by Chin-Keung Li on the MHAMic website:


Some anti-drugs laws that aim to protect people from harmful substances have made the use of virtually harmless substances potentially deadly through poor production standards and lack of appropriate education. Similarly, attempting to protect a class of people from natural, human sexuality leads to inadequate education and hands control of these practises to a hidden, criminal element. Therefore, protectionist actions may be excused by the unthinking because they allegedly "prevent" and "bring closure to" the problems they are in part responsible for causing.

To resolve this issue, young people should be handed back control of their bodies and taught not to feel guilty about their sexuality.