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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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Economics Goes Behavioral

Economics Goes Behavioral

(p.41) 4 Economics Goes Behavioral
The Tyranny of Utility

Gilles Saint-Paul

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on behavioral economics. Most of the recent developments in behavioral economics converge with other social sciences in that they do away with the unitary individual. To date, behavioral economics is a catalogue of empirically documented psychological phenomena, each a particular deviation from the unitary view. These phenomena fall under several different headings, but their most salient aspect is that in many cases, many individuals are reinterpreted as having several “incarnations” rather than consisting of a unique self. No attempt is made to bring these phenomena together in a synthetic theory, nor to impose restrictions on their frequency in the population. Although the unitary view imposes restrictions on preferences, these only imply some general properties that these preferences must have in order to generate consistent behavior.

Keywords:   behavioral economics, social sciences, unitary individual, psychological phenomena, unique self, consistent behavior

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