Bounded Rationality and Paternalism Redux

29 September 2006 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

| Peter Klein |

John Cassidy’s New Yorker article on neuroeconomics, and his (and Colin Camerer’s) use of behavioral anomalies to justify paternalistic social policy, has provoked many strong responses. The latest is “Neuro Wine in Old Bottles” by Will Wilkinson, which concludes:

New findings in brain science will certainly help us to improve the technologies of Reason. But our freedom is perhaps the most important of those technologies. So before we get carried away with exciting brain-based arguments for paternalism and regulation, we should remember that it’s not rational, in any sense of the word, to burn the ladder you’re climbing.

NB: Robert Fogel says that economists, too, suffer from cognitive bias — they are too pessimistic. Understandable, given that the economist’s usual role is to correct for foolish optimism, or what Sowell calls the “unconstrained vision.” (Thanks to Bryan Caplan and Russ Roberts for the links.) 

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Management Theory, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science.

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