Paternalism, Libertarianism, and the Nature of Disagreement
Columbia University; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)
July 20, 2012
Regulation to protect individuals from self-harm, such as euthanasia prohibitions and safety mandates, is widespread but controversial. Opponents and proponents are often believed to differ in their valuation of individual liberty. We model an authority's decision to constrain or inform a population of agents prone to self-harm and propose an alternative view: A benevolent politician's decision to regulate an activity depends on whether she deems it a matter of preference or opinion. In the former case, she gives truthful advice and safeguards liberty; in the latter, she constrains liberty, believing that she acts in the population's interest.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: Paternalism, Libertarianism, Communication, Difference of opinion, Coercion
JEL Classification: D64, D78, D83, K32working papers series
Date posted: July 29, 2012
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