This article examines the charge that the “New Perspective” on health (as exemplified by the Lalonde Report in Canada, by Prevention and Health in the United Kingdom) represents an abandonment of liberal principles in favor of a collectivist and paternalistic role for the state. It looks first at the problems confronting modern health policy, and at the reasoning behind the New Perspective's approach. It then explores whether and how the charge of paternalism applies to that approach, and just what such a charge implies. The article concludes with a discussion of the “liberal paternalist” viewpoint towards health policy, a viewpoint that combines respect for individual liberty with an interest in taking effective public action to improve the health status of modern populations.

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