The liberal view has the virtue, first, that it preserves the centrality of the individual perspective. It defines rational choice in terms of what the individual herself would choose under idealized conditions, so that what might be called a person’s objective rational choice is determined by the person’s idiosyncratic initial perspective. Thus, the liberal can say that the idealization defines an individual’s good as opposed to what is good for all people (or all relevant sorts of people, according to general social or moral theories). Especially in cases in which paternalism is justified on the liberal view by the individual’s incompetence or incapacity, the argument is that the individual herself would have so chosen under the right conditions. For instance, we might feel justified in preventing someone from harming himself even though he has reflected carefully on his decision and strongly desires the result. If intervention were justified in such a case, the argument would be that the person would not have reasoned as he
had if he had been able to consider his options in the absence of certain psychological constraints or distorting circumstantial pressures. The concern here is that if individuals’ goods were not defined in terms of current interests and desires, it could turn out that detrimental processes of brainwashing and other wrong licensing of intervention could be held to be rational for an individual.