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Strings AttachedUntangling the Ethics of Incentives$
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Ruth W. Grant

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151601

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151601.001.0001

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A Different Kind of Conversation

A Different Kind of Conversation

(p.133) Chapter Eight A Different Kind of Conversation
Strings Attached

Ruth W. Grant

Princeton University Press

This chapter raises the broader question of the relation between incentives and democratic politics. The use of incentives as a tool of government policy appears to increase our choices and protect a space of freedom. This seems to be better than government regulations that foreclose options and establish penalties for transgressions. However, to the extent that incentives are one of the ways in which experts seek to manipulate behavior, and to the extent that incentive systems substitute for persuasion and foreclose deliberation and debate, a democratic people ought to be deeply suspicious of them. At the very least, the question of the ethics of incentives leads directly to the question of the role of experts in a democracy and finally, further still, to the question of what kind of citizens we aspire to be.

Keywords:   incentives, democratic politics, government policy, choice, democracy, ethics

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