TITLE

Should evolutionary economists embrace libertarian paternalism?

AUTHOR(S)
Binder, Martin
PUB. DATE
July 2014
SOURCE
Journal of Evolutionary Economics;Jul2014, Vol. 24 Issue 3, p515
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Libertarian paternalists hold that biases and distortions in human decision-making justify paternalistic interference affecting individuals' decisions. The aim of this paper is to analzye to what extent an evolutionary outlook supports libertarian paternalism. I will put forward three arguments in favour of libertarian paternalism and six objections that strongly oppose it. While evolutionary economists should take seriously the contention that our positive knowledge of real-world decision-making will have to influence our normative assessment of these decisions, the objections against libertarian paternalism brought forward in this paper serve as a cautionary note. Contrary to the claims of its proponents, libertarian paternalism is neither inevitable, nor does it provide an adequate measuring rod of normative rationality. It is prone to abuse by anchoring its standard of rationality pragmatically to norms and can thus promote conservative bias and stifle innovative exploration. It also presents the policy-maker with a compounded Hayekian knowledge problem. Finally, from a dynamic point of view, libertarian paternalism's manipulative shaping of preferences might lock-in individuals into heteronomous preference learning paths without them being even aware of it.
ACCESSION #
96927604

 

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