Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 5 > Issue 1

The Case for Ends Paternalism: Extending Le Grand and New’s Framework for Justification of Government Paternalism

Dan Acland, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, USA, acland@berkeley.edu
 
Suggested Citation
Dan Acland (2018), "The Case for Ends Paternalism: Extending Le Grand and New’s Framework for Justification of Government Paternalism", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 5: No. 1, pp 1-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/105.00000074

Published: 26 Mar 2018
© 2018 D. Acland
 
Subjects
Behavioral Economics
 

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In this article:
1. Introduction
2. Summary of the LN Framework
3. Ends-Related Reasoning Failure
4. Justification of Ends Paternalism
5. Conclusion
References

Abstract

Le Grand and New, in their recent book, “Government Paternalism: Nanny State or Helpful Friend,” present a novel definition of paternalism and a framework for thinking about whether any given paternalistic policy can be considered justifiable. I show that their framework is flawed in that it restricts justifiable paternalism to that which is intended to alter individuals’ judgment about the means they use to pursue their self-determined ends. I show that the principles they use to justify certain kinds of means paternalism also justify certain kinds of ends paternalism. In particular, when there is a body of rigorous social-science evidence that individuals select ends that they themselves, if they had adequate information or experience would prefer not to pursue, and when other conditions are met, ends paternalism may be considered to improve the wellbeing of the individual as determined by the individual themselves. I present examples of policies that could be justified under this framework, and offer cautionary notes.

DOI:10.1561/105.00000074