Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 October 2017
One interpretation of the evidence on how people actually behave is that they sometimes/often do not have well-defined preferences. Although this makes public policy based on preference satisfaction problematic, it does not count against policy intervention per se. This paper argues instead that it shifts the object of intervention to the rules that constrain and enable action (away from the outcomes arising from those actions). This is the constitutional approach to public policy. Drawing on the constitutional tradition in political theory that values individuals for their individuality, the paper develops an argument for a basic income and a constitutionally constrained tax system. The key feature of this system is its simplicity. This should appeal on behavioural grounds to anyone who is concerned with using the tax and benefit system in public policy and not just those who are persuaded by the argument here for the constitutional approach to public policy.