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Liberty and the post-utilitarian society

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  • Saint-Paul, Gilles

Abstract

Utilitarian foundations for limited government are shaky insofar as they assume rational and consistent individuals. Recently economists’ assumption of rational actors has come under sustained attack. Behavioural economics has suggested that people are plagued by irrational biases and inconsistencies. The author elucidates how these developments have led to a post-utilitarianism which is held to justify paternalistic interventions by the state via ‘sin taxes’ , direct bans or new obligations. Individual responsibility is seriously undermined, as is faith in markets. He concludes that supporters of individual freedom need to move away from utilitarian reasoning, reassert core values of autonomy and responsibility, and define strict limits on the scope of government intervention.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 12-334.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:26144

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Keywords: behavioural economics; utilitarianism; government; paternalism;

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  1. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
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  1. Sin taxes and liberty
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-12-21 15:02:00

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