LIBERTARIAN PATERNALISM THALER SUNSTEIN PDF

The Austrian vol 1 no 4 Sometimes, though, the state does pass laws that claim to restrict people for their own good, e. Laws of this kind are called paternalistic. Libertarians of course oppose paternalism, but it is not only libertarians who reject it. It is at odds with the entire heritage of classical liberalism. His own good, either physical or mental, is not a sufficient warrant.

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The Austrian vol 1 no 4 Sometimes, though, the state does pass laws that claim to restrict people for their own good, e. Laws of this kind are called paternalistic. Libertarians of course oppose paternalism, but it is not only libertarians who reject it. It is at odds with the entire heritage of classical liberalism. His own good, either physical or mental, is not a sufficient warrant.

Sunstein challenges what he considers the two main arguments that support the Harm Principle. In my view, it [the Epistemic Argument] provides the strongest support that the Harm Principle can find. But Sunstein does not follow this path.

Rather, he points to cognitive mistakes that people make. Let us return to cognitive mistakes. Sunstein is a leading figure in behavioral economics, and he writes about these mistakes with especial authority.

It is often on automatic pilot. Driven by habit, it can be emotional and intuitive. It follows that a successful effort to correct these errors would generally substitute an official judgment for that of choosers only with respect to means, not ends.

Does this give one reason to reject the Epistemic Argument? I do not think so. According to the Epistemic Argument, each person is in a better position than government officials to choose the appropriate means to satisfy his ends. The point of the Epistemic Argument is that people can better judge their situation than officials can, not that their judgment is without error. Human beings are fallible and therefore sometimes fail to learn what their true interests would require them to do.

Sunstein knows full well that government officials are also subject to cognitive mistakes and have their own agendas. Incredibly, his response is that technocrats are more likely than the public to be influenced by rational, System 2 thinking. My objection, though, is not that the officials are biased and self-interested, though they are indeed that. Only if their cognitive defects were so severe that they outweighed the force of the Epistemic Argument would Sunstein have a good argument for paternalism.

To reiterate, the problem I have in mind is not whether the government officials are more likely than the public to suffer from cognitive defects. It is that the existence of cognitive mistakes does not by itself refute the Epistemic Argument.

He offers no evidence that people who act in ways he wants to modify have fallen victim to cognitive mistakes. Do people who smoke, or consume sodas in large quantities, or fail to buy fuel-efficient cars, suffer from cognitive mistakes? Perhaps they do, but the fact that people are susceptible to these mistakes does not show, for any particular choice, that it stems from a mistake. Sunstein criticizes another argument for the Harm Principle. On this view, people should not be regarded as children; they should be treated with respect.

They should be seen as ends, not means. Unfortunately, Sunstein is tone deaf to its force. He thinks preference for freedom of choice is at best a component of welfare. I fear that Sunstein, like all-too-many economists, is so committed to welfare as the objective of morality that he is unable to understand respect for persons. This phenomenon is itself a cognitive defect, albeit one that has yet to attract the attention of behavioral economists.

I do not recommend government intervention, even the mildest nudge, to correct it. Note: The views expressed on Mises. The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism by Cass. Sunstein," The Austrian 1, no. Full comment policy here.

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Libertarian Paternalism

By Richard H. Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Yale University Press, Nevertheless, a paternalist about smoking would think it justifiable forcibly to prevent people from smoking.

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Libertarian paternalism

The book is critical of the homo economicus view of human beings "that each of us thinks and chooses unfailingly well, and thus fits within the textbook picture of human beings offered by economists. Two systems of thinking[ edit ] The book describes two systems that characterize human thinking, which Sunstein and Thaler refer to as the "Reflective System" and the "Automatic System". The Automatic System is "rapid and is or feels instinctive, and it does not involve what we usually associate with the word thinking". The Reflective System is deliberate and self-conscious.

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