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3 - A Kingdom of Ends

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 February 2023

Adam Oliver
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and Political Science
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Summary

In this chapter, I challenge the confidence that has been placed in hard and, in particular, soft paternalistic measures in the field of behavioural public policy. I consider the four limitations that have been proposed to human reasoning – i.e. limited imagination, willpower, objectivity and technical ability – but ultimately conclude that these are insufficient justification for paternalistic intervention, for two principal related reasons. First, it is impossible for a policy maker to discern what people desire in their own lives, and second, so long as they are not harming others, people should be free to pursue their own desires. The vision for the future of behavioural public policy that I propose here is thus consistent with classical liberal, and in particular, Millian thought: i.e. aim to educate people on the pros and cons of their actions and inactions so that they are better equipped to live the lives they wish to lead, but do not interfere directly in guiding them towards any particular end.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • A Kingdom of Ends
  • Adam Oliver, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Book: A Political Economy of Behavioural Public Policy
  • Online publication: 16 February 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009282574.005
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  • A Kingdom of Ends
  • Adam Oliver, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Book: A Political Economy of Behavioural Public Policy
  • Online publication: 16 February 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009282574.005
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • A Kingdom of Ends
  • Adam Oliver, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Book: A Political Economy of Behavioural Public Policy
  • Online publication: 16 February 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009282574.005
Available formats
×