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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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Markets in a Paternalistic World

Markets in a Paternalistic World

(p.134) 11 Markets in a Paternalistic World
The Tyranny of Utility

Gilles Saint-Paul

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores how post-utilitarianism attempts to regulate individual actions and interactions with others affect the more impersonal and large-scale interactions that take place in markets. Paternalistic governments can intervene in markets by imposing price restrictions on transactions. Such restrictions “work” because prices are a statistical signal that may be used by the government to infer the likelihood that a mistake has been made as well as the size of that mistake. By regulating prices, the government is thus screening transactions in such a way that those that go through are, on average, less plagued by mistakes. Such interventions again run counter to the liberal view that people should be responsible for their own choices, but they are welfare-improving from a utilitarian viewpoint.

Keywords:   post-utilitarianism, markets, market interactions, paternalistic governments, price restrictions, transactions

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