Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 5 > Issue 3-4

Moral Paternalism

Sarah Conly, Bowdoin College, USA,
Suggested Citation
Sarah Conly (2018), "Moral Paternalism", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 5: No. 3-4, pp 291-302.

Publication Date: 31 Dec 2018
© 2018 S. Conly
Behavioral Economics
Moral valuespaternalismwelfaremoral agencycharitycoercion


Open Access

This is published under the terms of CC-BY.

In this article:
1. Welfare 
2. Moral Values 
3. Dissimilarities 
4. Conclusion 


I present a brief overview of the paternalistic policies that are currently promoted, and then suggest that one broad area has been overlooked: individuals’ interest in behaving in a way that reflects their moral values. Paternalists want to promote individual welfare, generally construed subjectively: welfare is a function of that person’s own goals. Most paternalists have focused on relatively material goals, including good health and financial success. If we examine the idea of subjective welfare more closely we will see that we have other goals as well: most people have moral values, and moral values that are not purely egoistic. People make mistakes in the pursuit of their moral goals that are in some cases very similar to the mistakes they make in the pursuit of material welfare, and similar interventions are permissible.



Review of Behavioral Economics, Volume 5, Issue 3-4 Special issue Paternalism: Articles Overiew
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.