Do Self-Committers Mind Commitment by Others? An Experiment on Weak Paternalism
Weak paternalism commits protégés to their own plans. This experiment addresses the question of whether protégés judge weakly paternalistic acts primarily by means of their consequences or on principle grounds. Subjects receive a reward for showing up to the laboratory early the next morning which decreases in time. Protégés can either self-commit to a planned time or self-liberate by preserving spontaneity. By making this binary choice protégés express their preference regarding liberty. Simultaneously, another subject is either paternalistic or liberal by making an analogous choice for them. We analyze protégés' attitudes toward both policy styles via costly reward choices. If only consequences matter, self-committers should appreciate paternalism while self-liberators should condemn it. A deontological aversion against paternalism would negate a difference between both groups. Differing judgments constitute a consequentialist pattern. However, this pattern is driven by self-liberators' clear judgments. For self-committers also a norm of non-interference into others' liberty can be identified.
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