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The Problematic Welfare Standards of Behavioral Paternalism
Review of Philosophy and Psychology (2015)
  • Douglas Glen Whitman
  • Mario J Rizzo
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. THIS IS AN ADVANCE ONLINE PUBLICATION - PAGINATION AND ISSUE NUMBER IS FORTHCOMING. SEE SPRINGER LINK.
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Douglas Glen Whitman and Mario J Rizzo. "The Problematic Welfare Standards of Behavioral Paternalism" Review of Philosophy and Psychology Vol. 2015 Iss. 3 (2015)
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