Glaeser on Nudge Notes for December 3

Main points

I’m sorry I couldn’t be in class on Monday. I had to go to a meeting at my son’s school. It’s a long story.

If I had been there, I would have said pretty much what I said two years ago. I’m awed by the sophistication of Glaeser’s models showing how innocuous seeming paternalism could lead to very bad stuff. At the same time, I’m irritated by the fictional nature of the exercise. We have plenty of examples of paternalistic government action. We shouldn’t need to make up stories if the threat posed by paternalism is genuine. We should have seen it in action.

Also, I didn’t think the examples he gave of paternalism gone awry should count as paternalism. In fact, I didn’t even think they were close. I don’t think it’s just my philosopher’s fussiness at play there. If paternalism is said to cause bad effects, we’d better have some examples of actual paternalism to substantiate that. I think. Especially when, as I said earlier, we have lots of seemingly benign examples that we take for granted.

Anyway, I wish I could have been there to see how my opinions stood up. (They usually get bent a bit.) Oh well. See you Wednesday!

This page was written by Michael Green for Freedom, Markets, & Well-being, PPE 160, Fall 2012. It was posted December 4, 2012.
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