The Problematic Welfare Standards of Behavioral Paternalism

Douglas Glen Whitman, Mario Rizzo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Behavioral paternalism raises deep concerns that do not arise in traditional welfare economics. These concerns stem from behavioral paternalism’s acceptance of the defining axioms of neoclassical rationality for normative purposes, despite having rejected them as positive descriptions of reality. We argue (1) that behavioral paternalists have indeed accepted neoclassical rationality axioms as a welfare standard; (2) that economists historically adopted these axioms not for their normative plausibility, but for their usefulness in formal and theoretical modeling; (3) that broadly rational individuals might fail to satisfy the axioms for various reasons, making them unpersuasive as normative criteria; and (4) that even if their violation did constitute irrationality, that would not justify paternalists’ choosing among inconsistent preferences to define an individual’s “true” preferences.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)409-425
    Number of pages17
    JournalReview of Philosophy and Psychology
    Volume6
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 27 2015

    Fingerprint

    Paternalism
    Economics
    Rationality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Philosophy
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

    Cite this

    The Problematic Welfare Standards of Behavioral Paternalism. / Whitman, Douglas Glen; Rizzo, Mario.

    In: Review of Philosophy and Psychology, Vol. 6, No. 3, 27.09.2015, p. 409-425.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Whitman, Douglas Glen ; Rizzo, Mario. / The Problematic Welfare Standards of Behavioral Paternalism. In: Review of Philosophy and Psychology. 2015 ; Vol. 6, No. 3. pp. 409-425.
    @article{27169626c7064ee295cce4b95bbb1c67,
    title = "The Problematic Welfare Standards of Behavioral Paternalism",
    abstract = "Behavioral paternalism raises deep concerns that do not arise in traditional welfare economics. These concerns stem from behavioral paternalism’s acceptance of the defining axioms of neoclassical rationality for normative purposes, despite having rejected them as positive descriptions of reality. We argue (1) that behavioral paternalists have indeed accepted neoclassical rationality axioms as a welfare standard; (2) that economists historically adopted these axioms not for their normative plausibility, but for their usefulness in formal and theoretical modeling; (3) that broadly rational individuals might fail to satisfy the axioms for various reasons, making them unpersuasive as normative criteria; and (4) that even if their violation did constitute irrationality, that would not justify paternalists’ choosing among inconsistent preferences to define an individual’s “true” preferences.",
    author = "Whitman, {Douglas Glen} and Mario Rizzo",
    year = "2015",
    month = "9",
    day = "27",
    doi = "10.1007/s13164-015-0244-5",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "6",
    pages = "409--425",
    journal = "Review of Philosophy and Psychology",
    issn = "1878-5158",
    publisher = "Springer Verlag",
    number = "3",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - The Problematic Welfare Standards of Behavioral Paternalism

    AU - Whitman, Douglas Glen

    AU - Rizzo, Mario

    PY - 2015/9/27

    Y1 - 2015/9/27

    N2 - Behavioral paternalism raises deep concerns that do not arise in traditional welfare economics. These concerns stem from behavioral paternalism’s acceptance of the defining axioms of neoclassical rationality for normative purposes, despite having rejected them as positive descriptions of reality. We argue (1) that behavioral paternalists have indeed accepted neoclassical rationality axioms as a welfare standard; (2) that economists historically adopted these axioms not for their normative plausibility, but for their usefulness in formal and theoretical modeling; (3) that broadly rational individuals might fail to satisfy the axioms for various reasons, making them unpersuasive as normative criteria; and (4) that even if their violation did constitute irrationality, that would not justify paternalists’ choosing among inconsistent preferences to define an individual’s “true” preferences.

    AB - Behavioral paternalism raises deep concerns that do not arise in traditional welfare economics. These concerns stem from behavioral paternalism’s acceptance of the defining axioms of neoclassical rationality for normative purposes, despite having rejected them as positive descriptions of reality. We argue (1) that behavioral paternalists have indeed accepted neoclassical rationality axioms as a welfare standard; (2) that economists historically adopted these axioms not for their normative plausibility, but for their usefulness in formal and theoretical modeling; (3) that broadly rational individuals might fail to satisfy the axioms for various reasons, making them unpersuasive as normative criteria; and (4) that even if their violation did constitute irrationality, that would not justify paternalists’ choosing among inconsistent preferences to define an individual’s “true” preferences.

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84938852673&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84938852673&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1007/s13164-015-0244-5

    DO - 10.1007/s13164-015-0244-5

    M3 - Article

    VL - 6

    SP - 409

    EP - 425

    JO - Review of Philosophy and Psychology

    JF - Review of Philosophy and Psychology

    SN - 1878-5158

    IS - 3

    ER -