In Ethics, 'paternalism' refers to any action or policy which infringes on the autonomy of a moral agent. We generally recognize two forms of Paternalism:

  1. Strong Paternalism - the intentional violation of a competent agent's will.

  2. Weak Paternalism - the intentional or unintentional violation of a questionably competent agent's will.

Paternalism of either form is usually motivated by one of two forces: a feeling of superiority on the part of the paternalistic agent or agency, or the desire to enhance human well-being.