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Richard Thaler on Paternalism - Dictionary of Arguments

Mause I 177f
Paternalism/Thaler/Sunstein: Thesis: Paternalism is not avoidable in all situations. In many cases, an actor or organization must make a decision that necessarily influences the decision-making options of other individuals. (1)
For example, the canteen management influences the choice of food.
It is not the case that paternalistic intervention must be associated with coercion.
Def Liberal Paternalism/Thaler/Sunstein: a paternalism without coercion, which is also acceptable to liberals. Liberal paternalism is intended to improve the position of those affected, whereby this improvement is measured under the following conditions (or assumptions):
1. unlimited cognitive abilities
2. no weakness of will
3. perfect information.
See also Subsidiarity/Thaler.
VsPaternalism: liberal paternalism differs from traditional paternalism: 1) it does not limit the freedom of choice between existing options;
2) It is based on the preferences of the individual and not on those of an external regulator. See Nudging/Thaler.
(s)VsPaternalism: Problem: where is the line to be drawn between paternalism and liberal paternalism in the case of opting-in and opting-out? E.g. Organ donation: a) The acceptance of tacit consent or the demand for an explicit objection to organ donation - b) The demand for an explicit declaration of consent.
Mause I 179
SchnellenbachVsThaler/SchnellenbachVsSunstein/SchnellenbachVsPaternalism: 1) it is not about reducing alternatives, because even in traditional paternalism the number of alternatives is not reduced.
Only the opportunity costs of the alternatives will be different. 2) Liberal paternalism can only assume what the preferences of a conditional individual will be. See Hayek "pretense of Knowledge", See Paternalism/Hayek.


1. Thaler, Richard H., und Cass R. Sunstein. 2003. Libertarian paternalism. American Economic Review 93, (2), 2003, S. 175– 179.
2. Jan Schnellenbach, Wohlwollendes Anschubsen: Was ist mit liberalem Paternalismus zu erreichen und was sind seine Nebenwirkungen? Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik 12 (4) 2011, S.445-459.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconThaler I
Richard Thaler
Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics New York 2016

Mause I
Karsten Mause
Christian Müller
Klaus Schubert,
Politik und Wirtschaft: Ein integratives Kompendium Wiesbaden 2018


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