Pekka Sulkunen (Università of Helsinki)

"Common Good, Common Interest – Public Good, Public Interest. What Do We Promote (and Prevent) with Lifestyle Regulation Policies?"

16 November 2017, 2:00 pm


Lifestyle risks account for a major part of the global burden on health as well as on welfare and security. The oldest part of welfare state institutions and policies have been directed at lifestyle issues: sexuality and the family, consumption (sumptuary laws, substance use and smoking regulations, nutrition policies, youth work), and security at work, traffic and home. Four target formulations are frequently used almost interchangeably to justify lifestyle regulation: the common or public good, and the common or public interest. This presentation considers the limitations of policies justified as promoting the common or public good, as well as defending the common interest, and argues that the public interest properly understood, on the basis of Adam Smith’s theory of sympathy, provides the widest and most justifiable approach to lifestyle regulation policy. Alcohol and gambling policies are used to illustrate the point.