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The Tyranny of UtilityBehavioral Social Science and the Rise of Paternalism$
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Gilles Saint-Paul

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691128177

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691128177.001.0001

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Responsibility Transfer

Responsibility Transfer

(p.115) 9 Responsibility Transfer
The Tyranny of Utility

Gilles Saint-Paul

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on a new feature of paternalism: responsibility transfer. Responsibility transfer means holding an individual liable for a perfectly licit action, on the grounds that this action has initiated a chain of events that had led to harm inflicted by another individual. Responsibility transfer not only originates from the will to allocate responsibility to those who are rational; it is also determined by the relative capacity to pay of the various actors involved. This partly explains why there is a tendency to take into account not only the person's presumed cognitive capacity to act responsibly but also his financial capacity to pay the damages. In a world with limited liability, it is more efficient to allocate responsibilities to those individuals or entities that can pay: this allows one to increase the penalties and get better incentives.

Keywords:   paternalism, responsibility transfer, cognitive capacity, financial capacity, limited liability, penalties, incentives

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