This introductory chapter provides a background to the rise of paternalistic policies. The recent development of paternalism is not devoid of intellectual apparatus. Of all the social sciences, economics is the one that has traditionally stuck to the individualistic values of the Enlightenment. However, in recent years, a new brand of economics (labeled “behavioral”) departs from those foundations and brings new ammunition to state involvement in private lives. The aim of this book is to explain what behavioral economics is and whether it is dangerous for those who believe in individual freedom and limited government. The chapter also explains utilitarianism. Utilitarianism states that “society” should be organized so as to yield the greatest possible level of welfare, where it is assumed that there is some way of comparing and adding welfare across individuals.
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