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Should Motorcycle Helmet be required by law in the U.S.

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Motorcycle Helmet Law in the U.S
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Should Motorcycle Helmet be required by Law in the U.S.?
In the U.S., the wearing of motorcycle helmets has been observed in few states. The practice has been delineated as a liberal choice among the U.S. motorcyclists. However, the issue has undergone many debates apropos of health matters (Gostin & Milbank, 2010). It is noted that motorcycle accidents are more lethal than those of vehicles. As it is a liberal practice, most laws have been revoked by riders and motorcyclists. In point of fact, instigation of the laws has been a slow process due to constant revocation by the riders. Research has depicted that wearing motorcycle helmets greatly lessen chances of accidents. However, most motorists in the U.S. strongly believe that forceful instigation of those laws is an infringement of their rights. There are many views that have been employed to obtain answers about this debate (Gostin & Milbank, 2010). This paper will examine Paternalism and Libertarian views concerning motorcycle helmet laws in the U.S.
Section I: Paternalism and Soft Paternalism view
According to Miller, Paul, and Paul (2003), Gerald Dworkin defines paternalism as interfering or tampering with an individual’s freedom or liberty. It is salient to note that Dworkin discusses the issue of motorcycle helmets in describing paternalistic acts. Nonetheless, he outlines that existence of laws and legislations with legitimate reasons should not be rendered illegal.

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Dworkin asserts that paternalism is greatly prevalent in the debate about motorcycle helmets in the U.S. In point of fact, he emphasizes that the laws on motorcycle helmets were introduced not for safety but, for paternalistic purposes. He renders that the laws are paternalistic because those motorists are often using their property (Miller et al., 2003).
Moreover, it is important to note that Dworkin tackles both sides of the debate. Irrespective of his belief about the laws, he also responds to those groups that had strong arguments about the same (Miller et al., 2003). For instance, The Supreme Court of Rhodes Island advocates for the laws on grounds that the law breakers would incur charges in court. According to Dworkin, this reason was neither legitimate nor understandable. He reckons that the Supreme Court’s reason was inclined toward uncertainty and assumption (Miller et al., 2003).
Dworkin goes ahead and provides another definition of paternalism. According to Miller et al. (2003), he states that those laws hindering individuals from undertaking their duties may also be an entity of paternalism. Clearly, paternalism is depicted in those laws concerning wearing of motorcycle helmets (Miller et al., 2003). Individuals are restricted from using their property or carrying out their businesses thus paternalism.
Furthermore, Dworkin identifies the two types of interferences involved in paternalism. There is “pure” and “impure” paternalism; both of which involve different case scenarios. The former involves people emanating from the same class. In such a case, both parties are in the same class thus none benefits more than the other. Conversely, “impure” paternalism involves individuals of different classes. It is primary to note that the debate on the motorcycle laws is rendered “pure” paternalism. Also, the philosopher argues that there are no instances and cases on “impure” paternalism. This argument depicts that all forms of “impure” paternalism are, in fact, non-paternalistic in nature (Miller et al., 2003).
Dworkin also discusses “soft” and “hard” paternalism, which are forms of paternalism. He critically analyzes the two forms of paternalism and distinguishes them accordingly. According to Miller et al. (2003), the soft paternalism view lays its focus on those individuals that may be considered unable to make rational decisions. Dworkin asserts that soft paternalism delineates that if the individuals were in their right minds, they would make decisions that are best suited for them. For this reason, it is not right or just to infringe one’s rights and freedoms (Miller et al., 2003).
The philosopher does not augur well with reasons that endorse paternalism by hypothesis and assumptions. Therefore, he greatly dismisses “hard” paternalism; that focuses more on hypothesis rather than facts. Assuming that irrational beings would make different decisions if they were rational does not please Dworkin. Clearly, through his overview on paternalism, it is vivid to infer his sentiments on the issue of wearing motorcycle helmets in the U.S (Miller et al., 2003).
Section II: Libertarian view
The Libertarian view has John Stuart Mills as its key proponent. It refers to the view that offers individuals as much liberty as possible. Apropos of this view, human beings are not restricted from enjoying their various rights and freedoms. In point of fact, libertarian views greatly revoke the tenets of communists and socialists (Hamburger, 2001). The views mainly dwell on personal matters rather than those affecting the state as a whole. The main goal and objective of libertarians is to promote freedom among citizens of a given nation (Hamburger, 2001).
According to Hamburger (2001), the two types of libertarian views differ in content and context. In the debate about wearing motorcycle helmets, there is a prevalence of the Rights Libertarianism. This libertarianism wholly focuses on the rights of individuals. It dictates that human beings may use their belonging in the ways that pleases them. However, the view endorses free will of individuals as long as they do not affect or infringe the rights of other people (Hamburger, 2001). The Rights Libertarianism also outlines that threat or harm to a person or his/her property is rendered illegal. Howbeit, libertarian views argue that causing harm to an individual or his property may be allowed during self-defense measures. The other type is libertarian consequentialism. As its name suggests, it outlines that infringement of an individual’s rights may be accepted depending on the consequences of one’s actions (Hamburger, 2001).
According to Mills, human beings have free will. The Libertarian view, therefore, does not endorse initiation of motorcycle helmet laws in the U.S (Hamburger, 2001). As prior mentioned, the view dictates that individuals are allowed to make personal decisions without any form of interference. Motorists should not be forced to accept the helmet laws if they do not find it useful. Regardless of the health risks, riders and motorists have the freedom to settle on a personal decision (Hamburger, 2001). These laws may be legal if the motorists infringe the rights of other individuals in any manner. Also, they may be considered if the motorists have dire consequences that would have otherwise been prevented by wearing those helmets.
Section III: Personal argument
For this debate, I uphold two opinions. I propose that motorcycle helmet laws should be enacted in the U.S. However, I also have various assertions regarding my opposition to the motorcycle laws in the U.S. In fact, my opinion is strongly inclined toward the latter. Having understood both paternalism and liberalism, I believe that they are almost similar apropos of their verdicts. Both Drowkin and Mills have a high regard for humanity thus; they shun all attempts to infringe human rights and freedoms. However, it is clear that Mills’ assertion on free will is more open-minded as opposed to Drowkin’s.
In my opinion, human beings should not be restricted from enjoying their rights and freedoms if they are not harming other people. One of the motorists in the U.S. bluntly stated that if he were to hurt himself, it should not be the concern of the law. In fact, he emphasized that it is his head that would get hurt and not anyone else’s. I support the laws on grounds of health matters and not on forceful and infringement ones. I am a compassionate person in nature thus I tend to care about other people. Mills states that an individual’s matters should not be the concern of others (Hamburger, 2001). However, it is difficult for me to ignore the fact that another person is in pain.
As earlier mentioned, I also oppose the debate about legalizing motorcycle helmet laws in the U.S. It is necessary to realize that creating the laws is one thing, and imposing them on individuals is a whole other thing. Motorcycle helmets should only be worn by those individuals that deem them fit. Even though the helmets are for their benefits, individuals should not be forced to indulge in unwanted practices.
Drowkin’s argument on paternalism also discusses other laws that qualify to be paternalistic acts. I was keen to note that he mentions the laws on sexuality, and gives an example of homosexuality. As a matter of fact, I do not understand the concept of legal and illegal sexual practices. As Drowkin states, the practices happen in private between two consenting adults thus it is illogical to classify them as part of the constitution (Miller et al., 2003). Recently, almost all U.S states legalized gay marriages. The decision by President Barrack Obama was great for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. However, I still do not understand the reasons for either legalizing or banning certain sexual practices in a given country. I strongly believe that each and every individual has the free will to indulge in their desires. I agree with both paternalism and libertarianism. Gerald Drowkin and John Stuart Mills clearly delineate their opinions on motorcycle helmet laws in the U.S. Their assertions are strong; hence they are often employed by many plaintiffs in court (Hamburger, 2001).
This paper has explored paternalism and libertarianism views about motorcycle helmet laws in the U.S. It examined the arguments of Drowkin and Mills; the key proponents of paternalism and libertarianism respectively. The paper also focused on the different types of the views apropos of motorcycle helmet laws in the U.S. It has also given great insight concerning the individualistic culture of the U.S. citizens. As they shun communism and socialism, they focus more on individualism that often leads to enmity among people. Also, it has explored the issues on public health among the U.S. citizens. It is necessary to realize that Public Health is an important sector of any given nation. Finally, the paper has examined my opinion on the subject matter.
Gostin, L. O., & Milbank Memorial Fund. (2010). Public health law and ethics: A reader. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press.
Hamburger, J. (2001). John Stuart Mill on Liberty and Control. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Miller, F. D., Paul, E. F., & Paul, J. (2003). Autonomy. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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