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The Tyranny of Utility: Behavioral Social Science and the Rise of Paternalism

The Tyranny of Utility: Behavioral Social Science and the Rise of Paternalism | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty.
There are some interesting thoughts in this review of a book about the threat to liberty from behavioural social science. Are we liberty- and market-minded folk too hung up on the practical utility of our ideas in economic terms? After all the left doesn't care about efficiency. When I pointed out to a leftist professor recently that, while markets were having a tough time in the regulated West, they had brought 100 million out of poverty in the (economically) unregulated East, he answered in a flash, "yes but are those richer Asians really happier?"

A lot of us libertarians are unhappy at the prospect of being bossed, even if we could imagine rulers so wise as to give us better lives than we could ourselves. Freedom is a good for us in itself, just as equality is a good for the left even if it means that on average everyone is poorer. Sometimes although we complain about leftists with a tendency to domination it seems the real problem is with their rank and file supporters being submissives who actually want to be bound, gagged and abused. Telling such people how much better off they would be if they took responsibility for their own lives is perhaps unlikely to convince?

Maybe, as our arguments are not being evaluated by sceptics on utilitarian grounds we should make more emotional appeals? I realise that's an argument for closing this dry-as-dust blog, but what do you think?

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