Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 7 > Issue 1

Rethinking Paternalism: Derek Parfit’s Moral Philosophy and Normative Behavioral Economics

Cyril Hédoin, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Economics and Management Research Center REGARDS and UFR des Sciences Économiques, Sociales et de Gestion, France, cyril.hedoin@univ-reims.fr
 
Suggested Citation
Cyril Hédoin (2020), "Rethinking Paternalism: Derek Parfit’s Moral Philosophy and Normative Behavioral Economics", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 7: No. 1, pp 79-101. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/105.00000116

Publication Date: 25 Mar 2020
© 2020 C. Hédoin
 
Subjects
Behavioral economics,  Public economics,  Economic theory
 
Keywords
JEL Codes: B40D63D91
Derek ParfitMoral philosophyNormative behavioral economicsPaternalism
 

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In this article:
1. Introduction
2. NBE and the Trade-Off Between Well-Being and Autonomy
3. Parfit’s Moral Philosophy: Personhood and Consent
4. Rethinking Paternalism: Ends versus Means and the Trade-Off Between Well-Being and Autonomy
5. Conclusion
References

Abstract

This article examines how Derek Parfit’s moral philosophy can help to develop new insights to account for the justification of paternalistic policies in the context of normative behavioral economics. I discuss two themes that appear in Parfit’s work which I argue could provide insights to the debate over soft forms of paternalism: the reductionist account of personal identity and the notion of rational consent. I argue that these two theses are directly relevant to tackle several issues that are central in the NBE defense of paternalistic policies. In particular, they help to reflect over the significance of distinctions between ends paternalism and means paternalism and indicate that the tacitly assumed existence of a trade-off between well-being and autonomy is either meaningless or illusory.

DOI:10.1561/105.00000116