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Escaping Paternalism
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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: puppets and puppet masters; 2. What is rationality?; 3. Rationality for puppets; 4. Preference biases; 5. The rationality of beliefs; 6. Deficient foundations for behavioral policymaking; 7. Knowledge problems in paternalist policymaking; 8. The political economy of paternalist policymaking; 9. Slippery slopes in paternalist policymaking; 10. Common threads, escape routes, and paths forward; References; Index.

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A powerful critique of nudge theory and the paternalist policies of behavioral economics, and an argument for a more inclusive form of rationality.

About the Author

Mario J. Rizzo is a professor of Economics, Director of the Foundations of the Market Economy Program, and Co-Director of the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University. He is the co-author of Austrian Economics Re-Examined: The Economics of Time and Ignorance (2014). He has published in such journals as Journal of Legal Studies, the Columbia Law Review and the UCLA Law Review. Glen Whitman is a professor of Economics at California State University, Northridge. He is the co-editor of Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires, and the Dismal Science (2014). He has published in such journals as the UCLA Law Review, the Journal of Legal Studies, and the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

Reviews

'Taking issue with the narrow norms of rationality in much of behavioral economics, this remarkable book argues in favor of an inclusive concept of rationality and is one of the first to cover the full range of relevant empirical evidence from psychology. Escaping Paternalism promotes a serious attempt to understand why people do what they do.' Gerd Gigerenzer, Director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy, Max-Planck-Institut fur Bildungsforschung, Berlin
'Mario J. Rizzo and Glen Whitman have written an incisive yet accessible critique of the dominant strain of behavioral economics associated with Daniel Kahneman, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Rizzo and Whitman are wise enough to know that human beings, with quirks and practices, are 'people, not puppets'. Yet they show how classical liberal principles of governance do far better in organizing social arrangements than the various forms of soft paternalism now in vogue with so many behavioral economists.' Richard Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University
'Mario J. Rizzo and Glen Whitman present a powerful and well-documented critique of behavioural economists' justifications of paternalism. They argue convincingly that these justifications illegitimately presuppose that rational-choice theory is a normative standard. Inspired by the psychology of Gerd Gigerenzer, they offer a more pragmatic and 'ecological' understanding of human rationality.' Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia
'Taking issue with the narrow norms of rationality in much of behavioral economics, this remarkable book argues in favor of an inclusive concept of rationality and is one of the first to cover the full range of relevant empirical evidence from psychology. Escaping Paternalism promotes a serious attempt to understand why people do what they do.' Gerd Gigerenzer, Director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy, Max-Planck-Institut fur Bildungsforschung, Berlin
'Mario J. Rizzo and Glen Whitman have written an incisive yet accessible critique of the dominant strain of behavioral economics associated with Daniel Kahneman, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. Rizzo and Whitman are wise enough to know that human beings, with quirks and practices, are 'people, not puppets'. Yet they show how classical liberal principles of governance do far better in organizing social arrangements than the various forms of soft paternalism now in vogue with so many behavioral economists.' Richard Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University
'Mario J. Rizzo and Glen Whitman present a powerful and well-documented critique of behavioural economists' justifications of paternalism. They argue convincingly that these justifications illegitimately presuppose that rational-choice theory is a normative standard. Inspired by the psychology of Gerd Gigerenzer, they offer a more pragmatic and 'ecological' understanding of human rationality.' Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia

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