Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-dkqnh Total loading time: 0.273 Render date: 2021-10-20T14:43:24.978Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

“Preferences, Paternalism, and Liberty”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 May 2010

Serena Olsaretti
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Get access

Summary

Our goal in this chapter is to draw on empirical work about preference formation and welfare to propose a distinctive form of paternalism, libertarian in spirit, one that should be acceptable to those who are firmly committed to freedom of choice on grounds of either autonomy or welfare. Indeed, we urge that a kind of ‘libertarian paternalism’ provides a basis for both understanding and rethinking many social practices, including those that deal with worker welfare, consumer protection, and the family.

In the process of defending these claims, we intend to make some objections to widely held beliefs about both freedom of choice and paternalism. Our major emphasis is on the fact that in many domains, people lack clear, stable, or well-ordered preferences. What they choose is strongly influenced by details of the context in which they make their choice, for example default rules, framing effects (that is, the wording of possible options), and starting points. These contextual influences render the very meaning of the term ‘preferences’ unclear. If social planners are asked to respect preferences, or if they are told that respect for preferences promotes well-being, they will often be unable to know what they should do.

Consider the question whether to undergo a risky medical procedure. When people are told, ‘Of those who undergo this procedure, 90 percent are still alive after five years,’ they are far more likely to agree to the procedure than when they are told, ‘Of those who undergo this procedure, 10 percent are dead after five years’ (Redelmeier, Rozin, & Kahneman, 1993, p. 73).

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
8
Cited by

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send 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 sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send 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 sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×