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Rizzo and Whitman’s Escaping Paternalism (2019) is, at once, a scholarly treatise on the nature of rationality and a powerful critique of the use of behavioral insights to support a new paternalism in public policy. Since its recent publication, it has informed research, among other things, into the decision processes of paternalist policymakers (Ambuehl et al., 2021), the implications of dynamic preferences for tax policy (Delmotte and Dold, 2021), and alternative theoretical grounds for behavioral policymaking (Sunstein, 2021; Sugden, 2021; Rizzo and Whitman, 2021). Its theoretical depth has far-reaching implications for methodological discussions within behavioral economics and the scope of government action beyond contemporary policy debates. We are very grateful to the editor of the Review of Behavioral Economics for hosting this critical interdisciplinary discussion of the book. In this introduction, we briefly review the key arguments from Escaping Paternalism and then summarize the contributions to the symposium. The diverse views expressed therein show that Rizzo and Whitman’s critique of the methodological robustness of behavioral biases and their proposal of a “paternalism-resisting framework” is stimulating, but not uncontroversial. This special issue is an invitation to further engage with Rizzo and Whitman’s arguments and, in doing so, advance both the methodological debate about key concepts in behavioral economics (such as rationality, biases, internalities, or welfare) and the normative debate about the implications of behavioral insights for policymaking.
Review of Behavioral Economics, Volume 8, Issue 3-4 Special Issue: Escaping Paternalism: Articles Overiew
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.