Christoph Krönke

Enhancing Life through Governmental Paternalism

Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Assistant of Law
Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Institute of Public Policy and Law
Munich; Germany

Capstone Conference Talk

Saturday (8/5) 2:10-2:30PM

“Data Paternalism” – A Viable Concept for Enhancing Digital Life?

With my project on Governmental Paternalism, I tried to find answers to the big question “What is enhancing life?” by asking another question: Who should decide what an enhanced life actually is? Is it the government or is it the individual? For a libertarian, the answer would be simple. The individual gets to decide. If he or she wants to drink, smoke, gamble, it’s up to him or her to do so. But if you are a liberal or hold moderate political views, you would probably say that the government has certain responsibilities with respect to the well-being of its citizens. In my presentation on “Data Paternalism,” I will discuss fundamental questions of data protection law in order to illustrate this “tightrope walk” between governmental enhancement and personal autonomy.


Capstone Conference Research Laboratory

SATURDAY (8/5) 4:00-5:10PM

Enhancing Life in a Digital Age

The aim of this laboratory is to capture and evaluate the most significant impacts of digitalization and media on economic, social, cultural and political life. These impacts may come with enhancements, but also with threats. These impacts include potentials and problems such as data/privacy protection and IT security concerns as well as phenomena such as “hate speech” on the internet; artificial intelligence and “digital labour” (e.g. the impact of permanent [“enhanced”?] availability of employees on labor markets); the “echo chamber” or “filter bubble” effect (as a result of algorithm-based, personalized news streams in social networks, users can get separated from information which disagrees with his/her preferences and views); the use of “big data” applications in the health care sector and many more aspects.

Research Laboratories allow audience members to interact with a panel of ELP Scholars and Interlocutors in addressing a problem of public relevance. We invite active participation from audience members in the creation of new knowledge.

Academic Biography

Christoph Krönke is research and teaching associate at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Germany, at the Institute of Public Policy and Law. He received his PhD (“Dr. jur.”) from Munich University in 2013. Dr. Krönke has published several books and articles in the field of public law, including his dissertation on “The Procedural Autonomy of the Member States of the European Union” (2012) and two text books on the law of state organization (1st ed. 2012, 2nd ed. forthcoming in 2015) and on fundamental constitutional rights (1st ed. 2012, 2nd ed. 2015). His research focuses on constitutional law, European and international law, administrative law – with a focus on public commercial law – as well as legal and political theory. Dr. Krönke graduated from Munich University in 2009 (First State Examination) and passed his Second State Examination in 2014, after practical legal training in civil, criminal and administrative law courts in Munich and in the cabinet of the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Project Executive Summary

“[T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.” (John Stuart Mill)

In a modern state with rules on compulsory wearing of seat-belts and ski helmets, extensive restrictions of gambling and governmental warnings against certain religious organizations, Mill’s famous words sound like a dreamy whisper. Governmental attempts to enhance the lives of citizens increasingly result in paternalistic political agendas, i.e. agendas which interfere with the rights and freedoms of the persons concerned, regardless of their actual will, motivated and justified by the claim that these persons’ lives will be healthier, longer and better.

The Governmental Paternalism Project shall define the different forms of paternalistic governmental life enhancement and establish a differentiated phenomenology. On this basis, the fundamental legal grounds and key values of governmental paternalism and of governmental life enhancement in general will be developed. It is one of the core statements of the Governmental Paternalism Project that these legal foundations need to be concretized by way of interpretation and legislation and as a result of value-based assessment, accessing conceptions of a “better life” that stem from other disciplines (e.g. anthropology, sociology and religious studies) and institutions (e.g. a national ethics council, the churches and independent research institutions). Against this background, the general legal principles and limitations of enhancing life through governmental paternalism will be developed and systematized.