A Critical Assessment of Libertarian Paternalism

68 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2013

See all articles by Riccardo Rebonato

Riccardo Rebonato

University of Oxford - Mathematical Institute

Date Written: October 28, 2013


In this note I concisely present the main arguments advanced in "Taking Liberties" (2012). In particular, I look at the philosophical roots of libertarian paternalism. I examine whether the claims that it constitutes the "real Third Way" and that it always should be preferred to 'harder' forms of paternalism are justified, and I propose that interventions aimed at improving, rather than 'nudging', human cognitive abilities may be more consonant with a truly libertarian programme. I also discuss whether the easy reversibility of 'nudges', which is often mentioned as one of its most desirable features, is truly as important and effective as generally thought.

Keywords: libertarianism, paternalism, libertarian paternalism, theory of choice, nudging

JEL Classification: B10, H00, H40

Suggested Citation

Rebonato, Riccardo, A Critical Assessment of Libertarian Paternalism (October 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2346212 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2346212

Riccardo Rebonato (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Mathematical Institute ( email )

United Kingdom

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