Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, “Libertarian Paternalism Is Not an The idea of libertarian paternalism might seem to be an oxymoron, but it is both. Libertarian Paternalism. By RICHARD H. THALER AND CASS R. SUNSTEIN*. Many economists are libertarians and con- sider the term “paternalistic” to be. Libertarian Paternalism. By RICHARD H. THALER AND CASS R. SUNSTEIN’. Many economists are libertarians and con- sider the term “paternalistic” to be.

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Paternalists maintain that it is sometimes justifiable to interfere with someone’s freedom, if doing so will promote his own good. Setting the default in order to exploit the default effect is a typical example of a soft paternalist policy. So far, I have not questioned the evidence Thaler and Sunstein offer that people act irrationally but have instead tried to show that, accepting their evidence, their case for libertarian paternalism has not been established.

Is it not, in a free society, up to them to assess the costs of doing so, weighing them against what they gain from smoking? Suppose an employer has a voluntary plan that allows workers to save for retirement.

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There has been much criticism of lubertarian ideology behind the term, libertarian paternalism. Libertarians deny that such interference is acceptable. There is thus practically unlimited scope for the state to suppress liberty: They suggest that influencing choice is unavoidable: Those who find convincing the explanations of bad choices put forward by Thaler and Sunstein are free to make arrangements with others that will alleviate these problems.

Further, people’s ultimate goals are often not the concrete objects that they seek to obtain: Given the authors’ wide net, few actions count as rational choices.

Thaler and Sunstein might respond in this way: To devise a libertarian paternalism seems no more promising an endeavor than to construct a square circle. People often do regret their choices. He has a choice: Their escape from apparent contradiction is ingenious. Thaler and Sunstein offer a further argument for the nudges they favor.


Libertarian Paternalism | Mises Institute

The possibility to opt-out is said to thalrr freedom of choice” p. His faulty reasoning does not count as part of his free choice. The American Economic Review Also, they do not present any evidence that choices of this kind are flawed by their criteria. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Our eminent authors, though, are not convinced: But the real issue is not the inevitable progression of the slippery slope but the rational basis for the restriction in the first place.

Not all cases of using force on people impose substantial costs on them. Raising default contribution rates is also an example of asymmetric paternalism. What they in effect are saying is that patenralism someone meets the textbook criteria for rationality and information, he is not really choosing in the full sense.

Yale University Press, Home Mises Library Libertarian Paternalism. Given these uncontroversial characterizations of the two positions, is it not obvious that they cannot be combined with each other? Libertarian terms Political philosophy Political theories Social philosophy Neologisms.

After all, doing so may enable them better to achieve what they “really” want — as experts, suitably instructed by Thaler and Sunstein, determine. Here, once more, the state does libertariab have to choose a default option. Suppose that you are about to reach for a cigarette, and I hold your wrist to prevent you from doing so.

Nevertheless, a paternalist about smoking would think it justifiable forcibly to prevent people from smoking. Thaler and Sunstein do not suggest that rationality always requires pahernalism the impulsive self, but often it does. The authors consider a related objection, but they do not fully grasp the key point. If you do not want to do so, all you need to do is sign a statement to that effect.


Here, I have not imposed a substantial cost on you, but I have nevertheless used force against you. Part of a series on Nudge theory Social scientists. Thaler and Sunstein may not share this preference, but their doing so is not a requirement of rationality in preferences. This article is about the concept of liberal paternalism, which is sometimes described as a form of soft paternalism.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate.

To return to the transplant case, if the state says to people that their organs will be taken from them unless they explicitly direct otherwise, it is claiming to set forward the terms under which people can retain control of their own bodies.

Is it not obviously true that people often act impulsively or illogically, in ways that they later come to regret?

Libertarian paternalism

Those who are making an informed deliberate choice to put aside zero percent of their income in tax deferred savings still have this option, but those who were not saving simply out of inertia or due to procrastination are helped by higher default contribution rates. It is all right to render it difficult for people to make certain choices, as long as doing so does not impose substantial costs on them.

This page was last edited on 16 Decemberat Sometimes, though, the evidence for irrationality, taken in their economic textbook sense, is weak. There seems nothing “irrational” about this preference, but if someone has it, purchasing the extended warranty makes sense.

Thus, they cannot be said “really” to choose to smoke.

It is also asymmetric in the second sense: What right have other people to a say in the matter?