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Government PaternalismNanny State or Helpful Friend?$
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Julian Le Grand and BILL New

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164373

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164373.001.0001

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The Politics of Paternalism

The Politics of Paternalism

(p.167) 9 The Politics of Paternalism
Government Paternalism

Julian Le Grand

Bill New

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the politics of paternalism. It first considers the question of whether the government can do better than the individual, outlining a set of justifications for government paternalism and showing how the state can intervene to improve the well-being of its citizens. It then discusses possible ways in which the government could be held to account to ensure that, in its paternalistic interventions aimed at improving its citizens' well-being, it does actually pursue the “right” agenda. It argues that the government can indeed raise the well-being of individuals who suffer from reasoning failure, even when allowance is made for possible reasoning failure among those individuals who constitute the government. However, democratic mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that the latter do not pursue their own agenda and turn the paternalistic state into an instrument of authoritarianism.

Keywords:   government paternalism, well-being, paternalistic intervention, reasoning failure, paternalistic state, authoritarianism

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