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The Tyranny of Utility – Behavioral Social Science and the Rise of Paternalism - Princeton Scholarship Online
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The Tyranny of Utility: Behavioral Social Science and the Rise of Paternalism

Gilles Saint-Paul


The general assumption that social policy should be utilitarian—that society should be organized to yield the greatest level of welfare—leads inexorably to increased government interventions. Historically, however, the science of economics has advocated limits to these interventions for utilitarian reasons and because of the assumption that people know what is best for themselves. But more recently, behavioral economics has focused on biases and inconsistencies in individual behavior. Based on these developments, governments now prescribe the foods we eat, the apartments we rent, and the compo ... More

Keywords: utilitarian social policy, welfare, government intervention, individual freedom, paternalism, individual liberty

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780691128177
Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017 DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691128177.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Gilles Saint-Paul, author
Toulouse School of Economics