Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy and Public Affairs

Reader 1

Alex Rajczi

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© 2012 Jacob Daniel Kass


A great virtue of our fairly liberal society is its willingness to allow, legally and socially, individuals to choose their own lifestyle, free from interference or coercion. For this reason, there is rightly a strong resistance and hostility to government regulation of wholly self-regarding behavior – acts which only affect the actor. Whether justified by an appeal to sovereignty or utility, that which one does to oneself is seen as beyond the jurisdiction of government.

Yet the problem of the so-called obesity "epidemic" – the explosion in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in recent decades – is a case of self-harm which does indeed warrant government intervention.

This thesis considers utilitarian and autonomy-based arguments against interference in self-regarding action, then show why obesity merits intervention nevertheless.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.