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With paternalism (from Ancient Greek πά · τερ, Father, plural: pateres "father"), a system of rule describes their authority and Herrschaftslegitimierung a guardianship established relationship between dominant and dominated people. The family area is usually excluded from consideration.

An act that is directed against the will but for the supposed good of another is also colloquially referred to as paternalistic. Paternalistic regulations are often viewed by the addressees as paternalistic.


The expression "paternalism" also describes an idea by Robert Owens to solve the social question in Germany in the 19th century. It describes the private corporate social policy of large entrepreneurs (such as Krupp , Stumm and others). These services offered the workers company health insurance funds , company pension schemes , support in emergencies, company apartments and company canteens . The aim of this was to develop the respective company as a combination of domination and production area as well as a community.

Another characteristic example of a paternalistic ideology forms the self-perception of the slave-holding planters in the southern states of the United States in the 17th and 19th centuries.

In today's western legislation there are also examples of regulations that are clearly paternalistic. The obligation to wear seat belts, for example, is a legal regulation that is primarily aimed at preventing people from unintentionally harming themselves. In Great Britain the " Spanner case " caused a sensation in the early 1990s : Sadomasochists were arrested and convicted of assault. The fact that all those involved had acted by mutual agreement was not taken into account. The compulsory education has paternalistic aspects.

Likewise, the relationship between doctor and patient is often described as paternalistic: If the traditional patient-doctor relationship was characterized by an asymmetrical, so-called "paternalistic" relationship, contemporary medicine and welfare ethics rely on the responsible patient and a symmetrical one instead of paternalism , partnership-based relationship that is oriented towards the patient's autonomy and includes his or her competencies.

See also


  • Dominik Düber: Self-determination and the good life in a democratic state. The paternalism objection to perfectionism . Mentis, Münster 2016, ISBN 978-3-95743-027-4 .
  • Johannes Drerup: Paternalism, Perfectionism and the Limits of Freedom . Schöningh, Paderborn 2014, ISBN 978-3-657-77298-8 .
  • Johannes Giesinger: Paternalism and Education. To justify educational interventions . In: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik , 52 (2006) 2, pp. 265–284, ( full text ).
  • Malte-Christian Gruber, Sascha Ziemann (ed.): The insecurity of fathers. For the formation of paternal bonds . Contributions to legal, social and cultural criticism, Volume 9. Trafo Wissenschaftsverlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 3-896-26886-4 .
  • Kai Möller: Paternalism and personal rights . At the same time dissertation University of Freiburg im Breisgau 2004. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11679-8 .
  • Heiko Ulrich Zude: Paternalism. Case studies on the genesis of the term . Alber, Freiburg im Breisgau 2010, ISBN 3-495-48178-8 .

Web links

Wiktionary: paternalism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Johannes Giesinger: Autonomy and vulnerability: the moral status of children and the justification of upbringing
  2. Ira Berlin: Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves , Cambridge, London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-674-01061-2 , p. 63.
  3. Dominik Nagl: No Part of the Mother Country, but Distinct Dominions - Rechtsstransfer, Staatsbildung und Governance in England, Massachusetts and South Carolina, 1630-1769 , Berlin: Lit, ISBN 978-3-643-11817-2 , 2013, p 680-683. [1]
  4. ^ Alfred Stobbe: Economics II: Microeconomics . Springer-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-642-96768-9 , p. 500ff ( [accessed on November 1, 2016]).
  5. David Klemperer: Shared Decision Making and Patient Centering - From Paternalism to Partnership in Medicine, Part 1: Models of the doctor-patient relationship. In: Balint. 2005, No. 6, pp. 71-79.
  6. Linus Geisler : Doctor-patient relationship in transition. Strengthening the dialogical principle. In: Final report of the Enquête Commission "Law and Ethics of Modern Medicine". May 14, 2002, pp. 216-220.