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3 - Rationality for Puppets

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2019

Mario J. Rizzo
Affiliation:
New York University
Glen Whitman
Affiliation:
California State University, Northridge
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Summary

Behavioral paternalists accept the neoclassical standard of rationality for normative purposes, even while questioning its descriptive accuracy. However, these standards do not have a strong normative justification. There are many perfectly reasonable ways the neoclassical norms can be violated without hurting the interests of individuals. Redescribing preferences or actions to fit the well-behaved mold is essentially arbitrary and without, in itself, any normative significance. Even demonstrating that individuals have inconsistent preferences does not tell us which preferences are better or represent “true preferences.” Behavioral paternalists commit a non sequitur when they use inconsistency to justify privileging some preferences over others.

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Escaping Paternalism
Rationality, Behavioral Economics, and Public Policy
, pp. 39 - 90
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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