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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: December 2019

3 - Rationality for Puppets


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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