Varieties of paternalism and the heterogeneity of utility structures

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dc.contributor.author Harrison, Glenn W.
dc.contributor.author Ross, Don
dc.date.accessioned 2018-02-08T13:19:07Z
dc.date.available 2018-02-08T13:19:07Z
dc.date.issued 2017-10-05
dc.identifier.citation Harrison, G. W. and Ross, D. (2017) 'Varieties of paternalism and the heterogeneity of utility structures', Journal of Economic Methodology, 25(1), pp. 42-67. doi:10.1080/1350178X.2017.1380896 en
dc.identifier.volume 25 en
dc.identifier.issued 1 en
dc.identifier.startpage 42 en
dc.identifier.endpage 67 en
dc.identifier.issn 1350-178X
dc.identifier.issn 1469-9427
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10468/5427
dc.identifier.doi 10.1080/1350178X.2017.1380896
dc.description.abstract A principal source of interest in behavioral economics has been its advertised contributions to policies aimed at 'nudging' people away from allegedly natural but self-defeating behavior toward patterns of response thought more likely to improve their welfare. This has occasioned controversies among economists and philosophers around the normative limits of paternalism, especially by technical policy advisors. One recent suggestion has been that 'boosting', in which interventions aim to enhance people's general cognitive skills and representational repertoires instead of manipulating their choice environments behind their backs, avoids the main normative challenges. A limitation in most of this literature is that it has focused on relatively sweeping policy recommendations and consequently on strong polar alternatives of general paternalism and strict laissez faire. We review a real instance, drawn from a consulting project we conducted for an investment bank, of a proposed intervention that is more typical of the kind that economists are more often actually called upon to offer. In this example, the sophistication of current tools for preference attribution, combined with philosophical externalism about the semantics of preferences that makes it less plausible to attribute their literal self-conscious representation to people as propositional attitude content becomes more tightly refined, blocks applicability of the distinction between nudging and boosting. This seems to call for irreducible, context-specific ethical judgment in assessing the appropriateness of the forms of paternalism that economists must actually wrestle with in going about their everyday business. en
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher Taylor & Francis Group en
dc.rights © 2017, Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Economic Methodology on 2017.10.05, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/1350178X.2017.1380896 en
dc.subject Nudging en
dc.subject Paternalism en
dc.subject Applied economics en
dc.subject Risk preferences en
dc.subject Investment choices en
dc.title Varieties of paternalism and the heterogeneity of utility structures en
dc.type Article (peer-reviewed) en
dc.internal.authorcontactother Don Ross, Philosophy, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. +353-21-490-3000 Email: don.ross@ucc.ie en
dc.internal.availability Full text available en
dc.check.info Access to this article is restricted until 18 months after publication by request of the publisher. en
dc.check.date 2019-04-05
dc.date.updated 2018-02-07T09:41:24Z
dc.description.version Accepted Version en
dc.internal.rssid 424843630
dc.description.status Peer reviewed en
dc.identifier.journaltitle Journal of Economic Methodology en
dc.internal.copyrightchecked Yes en
dc.internal.licenseacceptance Yes en
dc.internal.IRISemailaddress don.ross@ucc.ie en


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