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In this article, the confidence that has been placed in hard and, in particular, soft paternalistic measures in the field of behavioural public policy is questioned. The four purported limitations of human reasoning – i.e. limited imagination, willpower, objectivity and technical ability – are considered, but ultimately it is concluded that these are insufficient justifications for paternalistic intervention, for two principal-related reasons. First, it is impossible for a policy maker to discern what people desire for their own lives, and second, so long as they are not harming others, people ought to be free to pursue their own desires. The vision for the future of behavioural public policy proposed 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.
Capacity evaluation has become a widely used assessment device in clinical practice to determine whether patients have the cognitive ability to render their own medical decisions. Such evaluations, which might be better thought of as “capacity challenges,” are generally thought of as benign tools used to facilitate care. This paper proposes that such challenges should be reconceptualized as significant medical interventions with their own set of risks, side effects, and potentially deleterious consequences. As a result, a cost–benefit analysis should be implemented prior to imposing such capacity challenges, and efforts should be made to minimize such challenges in situations where they are unlikely to alter the course of treatment.
Chapter 7 concludes Making International Institutions Work. It opens with a brief review of the main findings and the role of each stage of the empirical investigation in establishing them. I then discuss the book’s contributions to international relations, international political economy, and political science as well as other fields of social science. The third section draws out lessons for policy and practice. I identify a variety of stakeholder-specific strategies for safeguarding policy autonomy and promoting accountability reforms, contributing to a lively ongoing debate among academics and practitioners over how to achieve an effective and accountable global institutional architecture. Finally, I reflect on the book’s implications for some notable emerging issues in global governance – including responding to international crises and challenges to the modern liberal order – outlining promising avenues for further research.
This chapter elaborates the book’s theoretical framework. It proceeds in three stages. First, based on a microfoundational analysis of the incentives facing states and international bureaucrats, I make the case that the former are more liable than the latter to engage in opportunistic behavior that imperils institutional performance. Second, I flesh out the concept of policy autonomy, explaining how its different components provide the basis for gains in performance and why it cannot be reliably established and maintained through institutional design. Third, I explore the true origins of policy autonomy, elaborating the causal mechanisms by which (certain types of) operational alliances and governance tasks insulate bureaucrats against state capture. The chapter concludes by summarizing the framework’s observable implications at the macro and micro levels.
In this chapter, I argue that there is no role for manipulative or coercive government paternalism over the private domain of decision-making. Followers of the liberal economic tradition contend that the competitive market is the best means by which to foster social cooperation. However, I maintain that we cannot ignore the fact that the competitive market harbours significant incentives for egoism, particularly in the provision of goods and services that are associated with market failures and where there is scope to exploit the behavioural influences. That said, private decisions that impose unacceptable externalities can be regulated against if needs be, and importantly, in the realm of private decision-making, where people ought to be free to pursue their desires – which includes entering competition with others if they so wish – the need to protect autonomy outweighs the arguments to disallow the competitive market. Moreover, the competitive market offers a means to protect people from poor goods and services by there being alternative suppliers. However, I note once again that governments do have a role to play in nurturing the reciprocal instincts.
Why do some international institutions succeed and others fail? This opening chapter introduces the subject of Making International Institutions Work. It begins by describing the motivation behind the book, presenting striking examples of differences in the performance of international institutions, explaining why such variation is puzzling for conventional theories of international cooperation, and highlighting its growing substantive importance. I then define the book’s two central concepts – international institutions and institutional performance – clarifying the precise scope of my analysis. This is followed by a brief review and critique of relevant literature. The last three sections provide an overview of the book’s argument, research design, and structure.
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.
The first and greatest commandment according to Jesus, and so the one most central to Christian practice, is the command to love God. We argue that this commandment is best interpreted in aretaic rather than deontic terms. In brief, we argue that there is no obligation to love God. While bad, failure to seek and enjoy a union of love with God is not in violation of any general moral requirement. The core argument is straightforward: relations of intimacy should not be morally imposed upon autonomous beings. We contend that such reasoning applies to human beings' relationship to God. So, even if our ultimate end is to enjoy communion with God, God has no right that human beings seek a relationship with him. If this is correct, then the command to ‘love God’ is not the sort of moral principle that can be supported by threats of hellfire or other forms of coercion.
International institutions are essential for tackling many of the most urgent challenges facing the world, from pandemics to humanitarian crises, yet we know little about when they succeed, when they fail, and why. This book proposes a new theory of institutional performance and tests it using a diverse array of sources, including the most comprehensive dataset on the topic. Challenging popular characterizations of international institutions as 'runaway bureaucracies,' Ranjit Lall argues that the most serious threat to performance comes from the pursuit of narrow political interests by states – paradoxically, the same actors who create and give purpose to institutions. The discreet operational processes through which international bureaucrats cultivate and sustain autonomy vis-à-vis governments, he contends, are critical to making institutions 'work.' The findings enhance our understanding of international cooperation, public goods, and organizational behavior while offering practical lessons to policymakers, NGOs, businesses, and citizens interested in improving institutional effectiveness.
MDLs rely, for legitimacy, on the notion that the individual litigant calls the shots. That fact justifies a system that affords MDL litigants few, if any, safeguards, even while furnishing class members in class actions elaborate procedural protections. In this Chapter, we zero in on litigant autonomy in MDLs. We explain why autonomy matters, dissect its components, and evaluate how much autonomy MDL litigants seem to have in practice. We then turn to a necessary component of that autonomy: information. We review data from a recent survey indicating litigants felt confused and uninformed regarding their suits. In light of that evidence, we assess what transferee courts are doing to keep litigants up-to-date and well informed. We then furnish the results of our own empirical analysis of court-run MDL websites, which are often extolled, including by judges, as a key venue for client-court communication. Unfortunately, our analysis reveals deep and pervasive deficits with respect to usability and relevance. If this is where case-related communication is supposed to be happening, then litigant confusion is unsurprising. We close with recommendations for courts seeking to harness simple technology to promote better communication. Improved MDL websites aren’t a panacea. But they might promote the autonomy interests of litigants—and light a path for future reform.
The reframing of Black stereotypes in view of new terms of respectability in the 1980s demonstrated the ease with which assumptions of Black abjection could be reproduced and mocked to challenge their preeminence. This chapter examines the “Black Stereotype Sketch” on Saturday Night Live, George C. Wolfe’s play The Colored Museum, and Sherley Anne Williams’s novel Dessa Rose to demonstrate how 1980s satirists scrutinized stereotypes surrounding Blackness in an effort to subvert them. Through the embodiment of the limiting stereotypes of Black identity, these satirists reveal the ridiculousness of mainstream presumptions of Black abjection and open up a space for an autonomous declaration of nuanced Black identity. By raising inherent questions of authorship, these satirists push back against the naturalization of Black abjection that is intrinsic to Americanness. The subversive nature of satire in the 1980s comes through the acknowledgment of the calculated nature of Black stereotypes. Satire not only reveals the unsustainability of race and racialization as theory, but also wages a greater critique against a broader social realm that remained so devoted to racialization in practice.
Under President Xi Jinping, the strengthening of the Chinese Communist Party's political control occurs in conjunction with an evolving administrative role for government-affiliated associations. Analysing associations that are subordinate within China's strict hierarchy but which have degrees of operational freedom yields insights into the changing nature of public service and administration in China. Evidence from 63 interviews conducted from 2018 to 2022 with government departments and affiliated associations in the education sector reveals the complexity of state control and degrees of constrained autonomy achieved by affiliated associations. The government exerts control over financing, personnel appointments and core business activities but, over time, associations gain varying degrees of operational autonomy to influence the education agenda and fill gaps in public services. The interdependency and relational variance we find in the case of Ministry of Education-affiliated associations contributes to broader understandings of the complex and fragmentary nature of the Chinese state and public administration.
Farmers around the world are increasingly vulnerable: climate variability is identified as the primary stressor, but unfavorable biophysical circumstances and disturbances in the socioeconomic domain (labor dynamics and price volatility) also affect farm management and production. To deal with these disturbances, adaptations are recognized as essential. Antifragility acknowledges that adaptations and volatility are inherent characteristics of complex systems and abandons the idea of returning to the pre-disturbance system state. Instead, antifragility recognizes that disturbances can trigger reorganization, enabling selection and removal of weaker system features and allowing the system to evolve toward a better state. In this study, we assessed the vulnerability of different types of smallholder farms in Bihar, India, and explored the scope for more antifragile farming systems that can ‘bounce back better’ after disturbances. Accumulation of stocks, creation of optionality (i.e., having multiple options for innovation) and strengthening of farmer autonomy were identified as criteria for antifragility. We had focus group discussions with in total 92 farmers and found that most expressed themselves to be vulnerable: they experienced challenges but had limited adaptive capacity to change their situation. They mostly made short-term decisions to cope with or mitigate urgent challenges but did not engage in strategic planning driven by longer-term objectives. Instead, they waited for governmental support to improve their livelihoods. Despite being confronted with similar challenges, four positive deviant farmers showed to be more antifragile: their diverse farming systems were abundant in stocks and optionality, and the farmers were distinguished in terms of their autonomy, competence, and connectedness to peers, the community, and markets. To support antifragility among regular farmers, adaptations at policy level may be required, for example, by shifting from a top-down toward a bottom-up adaptation and innovation regime where initiative and cooperation are encouraged. With a more autonomous orientation, farmers’ intrinsic motivation is expected to increase, enabling transitions at the farm level. In this way, connected systems can be developed which are socioeconomically and biophysically adaptive. When practices, knowledge, and skills are continuously developed, an antifragile system with ample stocks and optionality may evolve over time.
Gambling self-exclusion agreements enable a person to have themselves prevented from gambling for some future period. In light of evidence of their effectiveness in helping problem gamblers manage their addiction, these agreements enjoy growing popularity. In particular, several jurisdictions now oblige gambling operators to offer self-exclusion to their clientele. If self-exclusion has a unique value that is distinct from paternalistic measures, such as forced exclusion, it is surely because it prizes the gambler’s autonomy. In this article, however, I will argue that self-exclusion’s theoretical basis cannot, in fact, be found in a procedural theory of autonomy that only regards agents’ own values and decisions. Rather, I will contend that if agents may bind their future selves in only some ways—for example, by preventing themselves from gambling but not preventing themselves from self-excluding or selling themselves into slavery—it can only be because of a normative, substantive claim.
Autonomy is important to persons, including when they are living in nursing homes. Especially the relational dimension of autonomy is crucial for older adults with physical impairments. They generally have the decisional capacity to make choices about how they want to live their lives, but are often unable, or only partially able, to exercise these decisions themselves. To execute decisions, older adults are dependent on those who support them or care for them. However, little is known about how nursing home residents maintain autonomy in daily life and how others are involved in the decisions and execution of the decisions. To examine how older adults with physical impairments living in nursing homes maintain autonomy in daily life, shadowing, a non-participative observational method, was used. Seventeen older adults were shadowed during the course of one day. The observation ended with a brief interview. After the shadowing, the detailed observation notes were typed out, combined with the verbatim transcript resulting in one extensive report per shadowee. All 17 reports were coded and analysed thematically. Six elements for how older adults maintain autonomy in relation with others were identified, i.e. ‘being able to decide and/or execute decisions’, ‘active involvement’, ‘transferring autonomy to others’, ‘using preferred spaces’, ‘choosing how to spend time in daily life’ and ‘deciding about important subjects’. For all six elements established in this study, it was found that older adults with physical impairments living in nursing homes could only maintain autonomy in daily life when others, such as staff, family and friends, were responsive to signals of the needs of older adults.
Autonomy is the concept of self-rule, or the ability to control our personal choices. This chapter starts with a discussion of the dubious practice of selling herbal weight-loss products and asks whether regulations should try to protect consumers from making bad choices or if buyers should be solely in control of their own decisions. Advertising can be a challenge to autonomy, especially if it misleads or manipulates by triggering unreflective psychological dynamics, and capitalism relies on consumers being informed and able to make voluntary choices. The challenges posed by internet commerce are also discussed. The morality of workplace restrictions on individuals is examined, as well as the challenges of intrusive psychological testing and reduced barriers between professional and private lives. Whistleblowing is also introduced as emblematic of the tension between individual values and loyalty to a company. The concluding case examines the Wells Fargo banking scandal where customers were unaware of accounts opened in their name and the firm coerced employees to act against their best moral judgment.
In many countries, the idea of minority autonomy is a taboo topic, rejected out of hand as a threat to the state. Yet the desire for some degree of self-government runs deep in many ethnic and religious communities. Some people have suggested that a generalized scheme of decentralization or devolution, understood as a country-wide process that shifts power from the central state to lower levels of government, can de facto enable minority autonomy without invoking any idea of group rights or ethnic autonomy. This chapter argues that this proposal is unlikely to work. Generalized decentralization can be implemented in ways that disempower and fragment minorities, and has often been adopted precisely with this intention. Decentralization is only likely to benefit minorities if and when it is designed with minority aspirations in mind. And this in turn requires that minority aspirations be moved out of the taboo category into the category of normal democratic politics: minority aspirations must be “normalized” and “desecuritized.” This is likely to require changes both in the broader geopolitics of the region and in the local self-understandings of nationhood and peoplehood.
Talk of decentralization in Iraq is usually dominated by attempts to define the extent and geographical reach of Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq, including the question of natural resources. The primary challenge for the state has been how to accommodate a nationalistic ethnic group that has throughout its existence expressed a stalwart desire for self-rule if not independence. This chapter examines Iraq’s decentralization “moments” in 1970, between 1991 and 2003, and in the 2005 Constitution. It then explores the challenges of implementing Kurdish regional autonomy after 2005, focusing on governance and natural resources. It argues that despite a brief experience with independence, self-rule or enhanced autonomy has been held hostage to several variables, namely: Kurdish disunity, the strength of the central government, and concerns in Turkey and Iran about the potential impact of Kurdish self-government in Iraq on their own Kurdish minority populations.
Chapter 8 concludes our analytic narrative. We describe the politically frozen, yet militarily hot conflict from 2015 until 2022. Russian military intervention in the Battles of Ilovaisk (end of summer 2014) and Debaltseve (February 2015) produced the Minsk Agreement, backed by France, Germany, and eventually the UN Security Council, whereby Russia sought to impose conditions on Ukraine over the status of the disputed Donbas territories and the sequence required for Ukraine to regain control of its borders. Kyiv rejected this interpretation of Minsk, resulting in a diplomatic stalemate. The stabilization of the de facto frontier in the East took on familiar characteristics of a frozen conflict. On its side of the line of control Ukraine became more Ukrainian in terms of national cohesion and language/memory policies. On the other side of the line, the DNR/LNR became more Russian. Consistent with our model predictions, the policy preferences of the Ukrainian West met less resistance. In the final part of the chapter, we describe Putin’s decision to abrogate the Minsk Process and initiate a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s account of the conflict is formalized in a mathematical appendix (Appendix B).
This article provides a brief introduction to a research program which has been under way since 2007 to examine, using data from a large-sample panel survey, whether jobs in Australia are becoming more or less skilful over time. It redefines the debate on deskilling which ran through the 1970s and 1980s by expanding the focus beyond simple job quality to issues of current policy interest, notably the contribution of skill to innovation and productivity. To map this kind of dynamism it is necessary to use a metric capable of capturing change over short periods. This is achieved by adding a third dimension, skill-intensity, to Spenner’s classic definition of skill in terms of two loosely related constructs, worker autonomy/control and substantive job complexity. Data drawn from the first eight waves of HILDA are analysed to demonstrate that this metric is capable of capturing statistically significant change in the average skill content of jobs over much shorter periods than was possible with the metrics used in earlier decades. The broadly parallel aggregate trendlines for skill-intensity and autonomy/control suggest that these two dimensions are linked in the way Spenner suggests, even though major discrepancies appear between them in some industries and occupations.