Libertarian Paternalism – W16.2

The notion of libertarian paternalism entered broader public consciousness with the publication of the book Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein (Yale UP, 2008). Grounding their ideas in the emerging field of behavioral economics, the authors described a mechanism for the promotion of positive social change through the use of indirect suggestion and positive reinforcement (a sort of soft paternalism) without limiting freedom of choice (libertarianism). In contrast to the standard view of neoclassical economics, which is predicated on the assumption that individuals make rational decisions, behavioral economics recognizes that our decisions are constrained by choice architectures – the ways that things are presented to us. For example, the location of goods on store shelves and at the ends of aisles influences our buying decisions. The nudge principle suggests that, if we want people to behave in a particular way, then we need to construct choice architectures so that positive outcomes appear more desirable, but are not forced upon them.

In an article that evaluates efforts by the UK government to implement policies based on the nudge principle, Jones, Pykett, and Whitehead (Progress in Human Geography, 2011, 35.4: 483-501) explain that these policies have arisen from the recognition of the difficulties governments face in trying to address a plethora of social ills. These include increasing levels of personal debt, a myriad of health issues such as addiction and obesity, the demise of the family, increasing social unrest and violence, and global issues like climate change and environmental degradation.

Jones et al. identify four ways in which nudge initiatives can be carried out. First, the spatial arrangement of the environment can provide greater exposure to desirable choices, while keeping less desirable choices out of sight, thus linking good behavior to least effort. Think of the way Ikea stores are laid out, so that customers are guided along a predetermined path that causes them to pass by all the merchandise in the store, eventually arriving at the cashiers. Second, choices can be provided at opportune times, such as promoting fitness and better eating habits at the beginning of a new year, hoping to take advantage of the tradition of making new year’s resolutions, and capitalizing on the guilt that many people feel from overindulging during the holidays. Third, initiatives can also attempt to shift people toward making more rational choices. Voluntary enrolment schemes, such as pensions, savings bonds, and organ donation have usually relied on opt-in selection, whereby individuals must make a conscious decision to familiarize themselves with the program, fill out a form, sign their name, and so on. The natural tendency to procrastinate or simply avoid dealing with such matters means that too few people actually take part. However, if individuals were automatically enrolled in such programs, then the same human weaknesses would lead to much greater levels of participation, as few people would make the effort to opt-out. Finally, choices can be presented as community challenges, or through association with the values of a particular group (e.g., parents, cancer survivors, ethnic minorities), such that selection or participation becomes part group identity maintenance. The initiative becomes part of what is normal for us, whoever we are.

One of the major criticisms levelled against government efforts at libertarian paternalism is that, in psychologizing the state and society, policy implementation is grounded in a process of infantilization – treating citizens like children. In the face of almost too many choices, our inability to handle the freedom we expect and demand, leads to situations where our actions (inactions) demonstrate all too clearly that, in fact, we are hapless creatures – perpetual victims of our anxieties and insecurities, our whims and sense of entitlement.

About Robert A. Campbell, PhD

Robert A. Campbell, PhD, teaches courses in change management, leadership, and organizational behavior, as part of the MBA program in community economic development, for the Shannon School of Business at Cape Breton University.
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49 Responses to Libertarian Paternalism – W16.2

  1. Dapeng Zhang says:

    Libertarian Paternalism is sort of new concept for me, so to be better understanding the concept, I did a further reading. One journal “Libertarian Paternalism Is Not an Oxymoron” which is written by Cass R. and Richard H. stated that it is possible for people and public organizations to influence behavior and respect freedom of choice as well. Because most people’s preferences are unclear and ill-formed, the form of paternalism is inevitable. For this reason, I agree that Libertarian Paternalism is good for individuals and society. However, from another point of view, what if the framework which is given by Paternalism is flawed, so any choice which people make is a misleading decision. Nevertheless, I guess most people still prefer Libertarian Paternalism because they like to do multiple choices more than critical thinking.

    • Hongyu Yang (Evgeny) says:

      There is no absolutely perfect decision in the world, but the relatively good one exists. The Paternalism is a way like parents educate or guild their children. We could not say that every decision made by the parents is right, sometime even the parents do something wrong, but their decision can still influence their children. Thus, I agree with you on that if the decision is flawed, most of people still prefer to act the way they are guilded. While some of people may not because they may have their own understanding or judgement on cartain things, I guess, such as the disobedient childen.

    • Rowaida Magdy says:

      You are absolutely correct. Libertarian Paternalism is a great influence in correcting some peoples’ decisions towards the wrong choices to impact themselves and the society they are living in positively. However, I believe that it is a smart kind of manipulation to get people to choose what “they think” is best for them based on market statistics. Every choice made by every individual is different and impact each one differently. So the outcome can’t be predictable. And manipulation shouldn’t be a method of giving people the notion that they have “the freedom of choice” …

    • Yunzhu Liu says:

      Well, actually I am that type of person who does not like to make choices since I don’t really like “critical thinking”. I would always choose the easiest instead of the best option. However, people need to be told what options they have in reality not to find out their options by themselves. Like the examples given in the article, the model ikea made or the advertising made by orgen donation organizations give us a picture or information about what we could do, we might like that idea. Therefore, those information we have is leading us to choose what they want us to choose. I think that is a different kind of forcing us to do instead of saying.

  2. Hongyu Yang (Evgeny) says:

    The notion of libertarian paternalism from the book Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein has a huge effect on some people, even Barack Hussein Obama and David William Donald Cameron were influenced by their theory. My own understanding of libertarian paternalism is to guide people to do something in order to reach your goal rather than force them to do. People do not like to be forced because they will feel that their freedom is violated. The key of libertarian paternalism is changing the behavior of people without depriving their right of making choices, guilding them towards the rational direction which could benefit each other. Setting a goal is important, the way of achieving it is more important. Libertarian paternalism is a good way to change people’s behavior, especially for politicians and managers who want to achieve their goals. I think people are more willing to accept this way rather than being forced.

    • Dapeng Zhang says:

      Indeed, having limited options is better than being constrained. As you said, politicians and managers have objectives, so they need give an orientation to their followers to guide them achieving the missions. Yet for me, I do not like either of them. I am aware of that we may not have plenty options in some situations, but if I have an opportunity, I will determine which is the best solution for me but not the ones which are assigned to us.

    • Yazhuo Hou says:

      Libertarian paternalists hold that biases and distortions in human decision-making justify paternalistic interference into individuals’decisions. Clearly, libertarian paternalism has many benefits to people although it still has some weakness. In mentality,it makes people change their behaviors easier and quickly.When a person usually hesitates which one is what he or she really needs,libertarian paternalism will be able to help him or her to pick one quickly without constraint and forcing, which makes him or her feel comfortable and helpful.

    • Jifeng Liu says:

      I agree with the point. People don’t like to be forced and forcing people is not a long term strategy to change behavior because human nature is to pursue freedom. The notion of libertarian paternalism advocates indirect and positive influence on people’s behavior. If our behavior are constrained by choice architectures, the way of constructing and conducting our choice architectures will become an important step to influence positively people’s behavior. Like Hongyu said, the key of libertarian paternalism is how to make people feel comfortable through win-win strategy.

    • Alex Xinyu Gong says:

      people don’t like to be foced, but there are so many people resist to follow the guide, just like many teenagers refuse to listen to their parents and teachers. they make bad choices on purpose. in my opinion, libertatian paternalism is just the left hand to manage the country, for government. we also need the right hand, the strict laws, to force people who refuse to make right choices to behave in the correct way. angel and evil are both exist at the same time, and they need to be treated differently.

    • Victor Tomiczek says:

      I enjoy your positive interpretation of libertarian paternalism. I tend to hold a more critical opinion, as I view it more as an effort to softly manipulate people into choosing a certain option placed among other, less desirable choices. Yet, there is no reason that the concept is applied solely in a manipulative fashion.

  3. Victor Tomiczek says:

    Paternal Libertarianism is the perfect tool for a ‘free’ society because it operates under a veil of choice. It provides a person the feeling of freedom, but the preferred choice is placed alongside other unsavoury options so that the person feels as though the ‘smart’ option was chosen, but in many cases that person was actually softly manipulated.

    Paternal Libertarianism seems to be the reigning mantra of marketing among the elites of the global North. As a consumer society, we choose among homogeneous products that exist under a guise of differentiation, be it smart phones, landlords, supermarkets, banks, clothing, or politicians. On the surface, the options are all very different, yet the core product is the same.

    “Without limiting freedom of choice” is the most brilliant part of this missive. Giving limited choice and consciously placing the preferred option amongst the undesirables is how people are manipulated every day.

    • Sophie Yang says:

      Very true. What’s smart about libertarian paternalism is that it not only makes you feel the great joy of freedom of choices but also makes you follow the trap willingly, yet the choices available are all well-prepared. A famorite technique for politicians, governent institutions and businesses to make people act the way they want them to act. I just wish they make no mistakes and the chioces offered are for the greater good of the society.

    • Wenfei Jin (Victoria) says:

      I agree with that. We are given default choices commonly today. When you sign up to many websites, you automatically agree to let your information be shared.Many social media sites use to gather data from their consumers. Many mindless nudge are influencing us.

      • Lisa MacDougall says:

        That’s very true, websites, memberships,etc. I found it interesting how effective “opt out” really is. For instance in organ donation programs- Austria has an ‘opt out’ policy; their consent rate is 99.8%. In Germany, they have an ‘opt in’ policy for their organ donation program and their consent rate is a mere 12%. Marketers will try to capitalize on this where possible and regulation permits.

    • Mange Xu. Erin says:

      It is a very great point of how people in consumer society being manipulated. Beside of the same core product is leading people’s option, the crowd psychology also can be a factor of Libertarian Paternalism. Consumers are influenced by the product producer, crowds are influenced by other consumers. In addition, consumers are not aware the situation about how are they using the right to choose while ending in the preferred option of producer.

  4. Sophie Yang says:

    Creating desirable social changes through positive influences is a gentle way that helps people change even without being noticed. However, it is rather a complementary alternative to resort to than a solution to depend on. There was never a shortage of positive advocates for positive social changes in any society in human history, but many social ills are still social ills just as they were hundreds of years ago. One reason, as Thaler said, is that we human beings “at least since the time of Adam and Eve, have self-control problems, especially men in the presence of women and snakes, and apples.”
    Believing that people could change because of many good examples surrounding them is trusting that people will choose to change. Two issues are here: one is how soon will changes take place? The other issue, freedom of choice also means the freedom of choosing not to change. A legal and regulatory framework is still necessary. Strict laws combined with nudge initiatives will be the most effective strategy to make social changes happen, and I keep thinking that the orderly society of Singapore could be a good example.

  5. Yazhuo Hou says:

    In my opinion, libertarian paternalism is an idea that it could influence people’s behavior in a way while also respect freedom of choice.I think it is optimal strategy in the market to a business,but I don’t like it. Just like the last paragraph, libertarian paternalist policies are grounded in a process of infantilization – treating citizens like children.As far as I am concerned, this allegation is justified.I don’t think someone is willing to be treated as a child because that means he or she won’t make his or her own real decision. That is to say, their choice will be led by others. Before I thought people are able to act rationally in a wide variety of situations, but indeed, behavioural economics has shown us that there are limits to human rationality because our cognitive capacities are limited and the environment in which we live is increasingly complex. To come to decisions, we often rely on heuristics, on habits or take other shortcuts that save on mental efforts.

    • Yaotong Li says:

      I agree with you, people’s desires will only grow ultimately, few people can control them. So once people are being libertarian paternalism they will be treated like children to ensure everything to develop healthily. And people like free instead of being controlled, so there will be some problems.

  6. Yaotong Li says:

    The term libertarian paternalism enables people to make choices more free, however, in order to putting this concept into use requires people’s self control or people will be treated like children. Because the fact is that people in today’s world are facing more attractions, so it is hard to believe one person to have enough willpower to resist the temptations which will affect his or her choice. So the result of libertarian paternalism being put into use will be over control. To conclude, libertarian paternalism will lead to two extremes too free and over control, so I do not think this idea is wise to be used in this world.

  7. Wenfei Jin (Victoria) says:

    Whenever you make decision that from the mundane to the significant life-changing, choice architecture is at work. It is the main tool of nudge. Sometimes we even do not aware that nudge influences our behaviors and lives. If we pay attention on our circumstance, you will find how we are influenced, you encounter choice architecture, how powerful of nudge.
    Supermarkets are the experts at this. Supermarkets are overflowing with nudges and other attempts to influence our shopping decisions. You probably also find that good smell of baking bread greet you when you enter in, veggies and fruits are put at eye level, chocolate and candy bars are placed next to the checkouts and so on.

  8. Mange Xu. Erin says:

    There are so many examples exist in daily life, such as how parents or teachers force youth to do the right thing, but get very opposite ending. Thus, libertarian paternalism seems to be the wise method to manipulate direction in society. People enjoy feeling that they have choices or the right to do the choices. With the “freedom of choice” way, people are actually enjoy being manipulate, which they do not feel that way. There will be more engagement and willingness under libertarian paternalism, while less complain and tough attitude.

    However, there is one huge factor needs to be considered every time when people decided to go with libertarian paternalism. Is it really in a positive position or the right thing to do? Because individuals with the soft influence will give the expected choice, but what if the choice is not good for the society or group of people? Thus, deliberate decision needs to be made when people are going to manipulate others to choose with the “freedom”.

    • Kun Chu (Joey) says:

      I quite agree with what you worried. Libertarian paternalism is a good way to make influence on people and lead them to make their choices undirectly. It is a sharp knife which can help a chef make delicious dishes but also can become a weapon for some bad people. Its undirect methond will make it hard to discover and manage in some gray areas of rules, law and policy.

      • Shen Ma(Maxim) says:

        I agree the point you mention, Is it really in a positive position or the right thing to do? what if the choice is not good for the society or group of people? What if Libertarian paternalism be a business viciously guide or illegal and undisciplined. People can take advantage of Libertarian paternalism to effect on decision-making. So, how to use Libertarian paternalism theory is the most important thing that people have to know.

      • Yanning Ren says:

        I agree with your point. Just as a coin has two sides. Libertarian paternalism gives children the right to choose their own interest, but it may lead to crime and moral corruption. Although the choice is influenced by social environment and others, after all is made by themselves. It may affect the society and others. Therefore, a person to face up to their own choice of autonomy should be responsible for their own choice.

  9. Rowaida Magdy says:

    The way I see Libertarian Paternalism is as follows:
    1. It operates under a deceivable shield. We as consumers, believe that we are making our very own choice, although most choices were put in front of us for us to choose. Therefore, it is not really our choice, as much as it is manipulating our behaviours as consumers.
    2. On the other hand, It is slowly creating a positive social environment especially in communities where social ills are of a high percentage. For example, stating the cons of drugs, or obesity while also giving consumers the choice to either eat healthy or junk food.. or use prescribed drugs or non.
    So I’m not really a fan of manipulating peoples’ behaviours but at the same time, it is another method of marketing different products/services based on the market’s needs while increasing awareness of the cons of certain choices made by consumers that are in need to be changed for their own good.
    What I mean by that is, for example the trend of getting into the gym and staying fit.. once this trend is over, and another trend is more appealing and interesting, the way products/services are marketed will change accordingly. And manipulation will shift from marketing this trend to something else.
    So, Yes, as consumers we have the full freedom to choose, and to buy or not to buy a certain product. But at the same time, from a marketing perspective, we haven’t made 100% of that choice on our own. Practically we did. but in reality, it is how marketing is; manipulating people by understanding their behaviours towards the market’s interests.

  10. Jifeng Liu says:

    Most people don’t like to be forced to work or do something. It not only is about pursuing freedom, but also is about pursuing domination. Today, most people believe that they should control their life and make decision by themselves. Controlling life and Making decision give people the feeling of domination and people like that. Therefore, the feeling of domination, in other words, making decision by oneself, decides whether people accept suggestions or not. The key point in changing choice architectures process is how to conduct people’s decisions and make people feel that everything under their control. The particular groups is a good way to present indirect suggestions because people prefer to compare with others who have similar situations and to make similar decisions based on this value of the particular group. Meanwhile, people still think they make decisions by themselves rather than be forced by others.

    • Liu Yang(Curtis) says:

      Actually, the particular groups you mentioned is quite common. We all tend to compare with each other unconsciously. People don’t like to be forced to to anything. In this Paternalism model, people are motivated to make their own choices and the government has to ensure that no radical method is implemented. Once people’s motivation is gone, this model will turn to a forceful movement.

    • Jingwen Wu (Cathy) says:

      Most people prefer to be treated the same which forces them to make the decision the same with others. And they feel comfort when they spend their time with people similar. And this is why most people have their own small group.

  11. Liu Yang(Curtis) says:

    Libertarian Paternalism is a very interesting notion for me. After a quick review of its basic elements, I realize that it is quite ubiquitous in out daily lives. We all know that smoking kills people. Instead of prohibiting the tobacco business, the government makes every one well aware of the harm of smoking and, as a result, letting people make their own choices. In this way, the government addresses its social ills as much as possible as well as not violating people’s freedom of choice. But I have to say that in the implementation of Libertarian Paternalism, the government must ensure that appropriate methods are put into practice; otherwise it will become a real “parental” model.

    • Rui Liu(Ray) says:

      As we all know that government always to set the default background and options, so why not set them with personal and social objectives. In my opinion, the government should create a patriarchal society. The majority of the social group is fairly decent behavior because there are lots of the social norms and judgment around them, and these criteria and judgment can make people more likely to be a good person. In other words, the policy of the government should implement these standards. For example, the government should encourage people to do fitness rather than to encourage people to lose weight. In some cases, the government may add some mandatory clause.

  12. Jingwen Wu (Cathy) says:

    Speaking about the nudge initiatives, it could a long-last plan but easier accepted by public. And even sometimes it won’t be realized. And I think creating an environment for nudge would be a key of the whole. One major reason is that people are usually easy to be influenced by majorities because they want to be treated the same. So, by influencing a smaller amount could have the possibility to influence all. And the video on leadership “First Follower” could be used to explain that.

    • Damon Zhen says:

      I agree with your point that creating an environment is the key, but we may have different opinion on the ‘environment’ here. As far as I understand, your ‘environment’ refers to a trend that most people would do the same thing. From ‘first followers’ to majorities, the public become used to the trend of doing something. And my understanding of environment is a particular location or a circumstance, such as store shelves and a list of options.

      • I agree with your point. People in workplaces are not treated same and when they get this kind of opportunity, they get influenced and are ready to use this power without understanding the reason that why that they that freedom. I think if government is providing some freedom to take choice and at that same time they are trying to influence people, then they should use this power wisely instead of fooling people.

  13. Kun Chu (Joey) says:

    Libertarian paternalism doesn’t give people the so-called freedom to make decision, but fill part of the information gap between members and organizations, also citizens and governments. The reason why our actions demonstrate haplessness is the information gap leading to the insecurities, anxieties and other emotions. This reminds me one of the appropriate ways to affect the choice customers in marketing. It can be summarized as three words: why, how, what. First you need to tell them why you do this(drive information), then show them how you make your product (detailed information) and finally present your product. With enough recieved information creating new demand, customers will follow your path and finally make the decision you want they make. I think libertarian paternalism looks something more like this. For instance, having the speech about how harmful smoking can be(providing more related information) will finally remind or create smokers’ demand on living longer or becoming healthier. Then, they will quit themselves. People are not only making their own choice under libertarian paternalism, people are making their choice to satisfy their demands.

  14. Alex Xinyu Gong says:

    parents always help kids to make choices when kids are unable to make right choices by themselves. government helps citizens to not make bad choices when they are easy to be disattracted to make bad choices. this is what libertarian paternalism is. treating citizens like children. people can drink legally after 19 by law, in canada. however, parents, in china, mostly allow their children to drink and smoke over 18 and there is no law says how old people can legally drink. it all depends on parents. chinese government believe that drinking is private issue and parents know the harm for drinking underage so they let parents to make the decision for their own children. in my opinion, strick laws is also a way to guide people to make right choice. it force people to consider the result before they make choices. for managing a country, government not only need libertarian paternalism, but also need to make strict laws and punishment to force people to make right choices.there are so many people always resist to follow the guide, then we need the law to force them to follow the rules. just like parents also would yelling or punish kids when kids dont listen to parents and make bad choices. punishment is not the purpose, but a way to correct people’s behavoier.

  15. Shen Ma(Maxim) says:

    In my opinion, Libertarian Paternalism is more like a multiple choice question, even though people select the best answer,however,they still step in the questioner’s trap. The Libertarian Paternalism reminds me of a magic that magician can exactly guess which poker card you choose. Because you were trapped at the beginning of the game. In my opinion, Libertarian Paternalism is a contradiction in terms. It is a choice without limiting freedom but all of the choices they gave were limited. However, there is no doubt that Libertarian Paternalism is a good way to guide people without query. Because individuals are rational actors who will act in their own best interest left to them self. So, the question about Libertarian Paternalism is that is the question on the right direction or the answers they gave are the right thing to do? Even thought Libertarian Paternalism provide the choices,nevertheless, people can give up the question or think about another answer that they prefer to choose.

  16. In my opinion, Libertarian Paternalism, even with its criticism for curbing the freedom of the people to some extent, is playing a major role is framing a positive behavioral change in the society. Most of the people are ignorant, or at least half ignorant about the choices they have and their effect on social causes. So, there is no way they can properly utilize their freedom to choose. If the government gives them direction to choose what is right for the society and bring out a positive behavioral change, there is nothing wrong in that. For the people who are fully aware of their choices, they are also aware when the government is trying to influence their choices and can analyse the choices wisely. So, this environment of paternalism from government possesses no threat to their freedom.

    • Junxi Zhou Joseph says:

      My personal view quite deviated from yours. This Article try to tell us the Individual Freedom of Choice is the main requisite for economic/social welfare achievement. The Libertarian Paternalism-a typical paradigm of Behavioral Economics is a strong advocate for increasing individual’s Economic Freedom of Choice-where consumers can act in their own best interests to buy from different producers. However, Neoclassical Economic System think the Economic Freedom of Choice is the freedom of Economic Agents (Economic Organizations) to allocate their resources as they see fit, among the options such as goods, services or assets that are available to them.
      Thus, in order to achieve economic welfare development, the governance framework should be alignment in Libertarian Paternalism Concept dedicated to advocate Individual’s Freedom of Choice instead of Economic Agents Freedom.
      So, driving force (Libertarian Paternalism) should powerful than restraining force (Neoclassical Economics). I totally agree with article that if we want people to behave in a particular way, we need to construct choice architectures, making fair market competition via applying proper marketing strategies.
      That means the Magnitude fo Capacity Building (Individual Freedom of Choice), how many freedoms are empowered to consumers, is critical..

  17. Junxi Zhou Joseph says:

    Actually, I totally agree with the article. Libertarian Paternalism received broader public consciousness worldwide. It’s a mechanism for the promotion of positive social change through the use of indirect suggestion and positive reinforcement (soft paternalism) without limiting freedom of choice (libertarianism). It is a typical paradigm of behavioral economics. Most importantly, this particular approach is a strong advocate for increasing consumers’ economic freedom of choice.
    Consumers’ Freedom of choice describes a buyer’s opportunity and autonomy to perform an action selected from at least two available options (product brand equity for instance), unconstrained by external parties (mainly economic organizations). The Article: Development Economics-Problems of Economic Development wrote by Jain, T.R., & Malhotra, A. mentioned that Individual’s Freedom of Choice is a very clear manifestation of nation’s Capacity Building and it has been treated as the key route to the success of Economic/Social Welfare Development (Economic Sustainable Growth).
    However, the book Nudge written by Thaler & Sunstein stated Mainstream Economy- the contemporary Neoclassical Economics (specially Microeconomics) seems to have become the major obstacle to Behavioral Economics (Libertarian Paternalism). Because, Definition and Concept of the term “Economic Freedom of Choice” in Neoclassical Economic System completely differentiated from the Libertarian Paternalism theory.
    Unlike Consumers (Individual)’ Freedom of Choice, in Neoclassical Economics where Freedom of Choice is the Freedom of Economic Agents (Economic organizations for example) to allocate their resources as they see fit, among the options such as goods, services or assets that are available to them. Consumers do not always act in their own best interests (e.g. choice over a dozen of branded products).
    So, Robert Campbell, the Professor of Cape Breton University, pointed that the Governance Framework, the Change Leadership Implementation and Change Capacity to Act can only take place within a particular Governance Structure. If that structure contains ambiguities or outright conflicts, then the leadership that emerges within that structure cannot help but reflect those features.It means that the governance framework must be alignment in Libertarian Paternalism Concept dedicated to advocate Individual’s Freedom of Choice for economic/social welfare sustainable development. The Neoclassical Economic System has become suddenly obsolete.
    From my opinion, I think the moral basis of value system-Libertarian Paternalism can be viewed as a function of the Context and Circumstances in which Consumers (Individual)’ Economic Freedom of Choice must be applied. It’s a Major (external) Driving Force (Behavioral Economics) stimulates capable and eligible Governors, Leaders (Change Agents) to study such “Troublesome” problem-as Dr. Robert Campbell mentioned, it’s Counter-Intuitive, definitely going to be unsettling, or disorienting but leading to the Development of Reconstitutive Change in avoiding Crisis of Buying Decision Legitimacy.
    Once the Neoclassical Economics (Microeconomics in particular) evolves into Behavioral Economics Scheme-Libertarian Paternalism, and with them so do systems of Governance Structure and Change Leadership.
    Definitely, the Contemporary Neoclassical Economics, the Restraining Force where Economic Freedom of Choice ultimately depends upon Market Competition, since buyers’ available options are usually the result of various factors controlled by sellers, such as overall quality of a product or a service and advertisement, should be alleviated.
    However, as Friedrich Hayek said: “Our Freedom of Choice in a Competitive Society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a Monopolist, we are at his absolute mercy.” Dr. Hayek warned us the Monopoly can be easily occurred under Neoclassical Economic System. In the event that a Monopoly exists, the consumer (individual) may no longer has the Economic Freedom to Choose to buy from a different producer.
    Refer to my view, the Magnitude of Capacity Building (Individual Freedom of Choice)-how many freedoms are empowered to Consumers/Individuals is critical.
    I agree with those Libertarian Thinkers suggestion that if we want people to behave in a particular way, we need to construct choice architectures making fair market competition by using proper marketing strategies.

  18. Damon Zhen says:

    For starters, the emerge of the notion of libertarian paternalism results from the recognition and respect for the basic human’s need, freedom to make their choices. This is not only beneficial for businesses to attract and guide consumers, but also effective for governments to administer citizens. It means that governments realize that power is no longer the only or the most sufficient method to rule people. They understand that, to guide and lead people, first of all, you must respect their needs and demands for freedom-in other words, people do not want themselves ruled, in some way. I think this is actually a great progress in human’s history.

    As demonstrated, people are usually faced with way too many choices, making them often pick wrong ones. Therefore, while their freedom respected, they need to be guided and led so that they can make better choices. All the four ways which are used to carry out nudge initiatives are based on human’s natural actions for anxieties, insecurities, whims, and sense of entitlement. However, I do not think these make us ‘hapless creatures’. Instead, I think they are the drivers that keep pushing human forwards, and making human evolve. Because we have these senses and feelings, we try everything we can to avoid bad things. In this way we have technology, health care, education and any other things of our life.

  19. Yiwei Li says:

    Libertarian paternalism is a helpless move when people could not achieve the task because of being lack of motivation, and the authority is powerless to use total paternalism to force people to do it. The methods article mentioned use psychological hint to lead people do the task that is wanted by another. When facing the change, people will not follow the change because the inertia, libertarian paternalism is a very good way to make people move. However, the range of usage of these methods could be limited. When reviewing the progress, one may realize the change of the situation and if the change makes significant difference, the individual may have resistance because the change is not actually decided by the one. This kind of ‘feeling of cheated’ may mean nothing if the task that is being implied is such a small trick, like the walking path in the furniture store, it can also ruin the change process if the ‘actual will’ of one’s is not included in the change management.

    • Tuotian Zheng says:

      The worry about people may go back on the old situation,because they may feel they are cheated by the libertarian paternalism is necessary, especially when the change people need to make is significant. The trick part is how to make people feel they are responsible for what they do, but not being cheated. The libertarian paternalism need to play smart within the structure of legitimate, or the change libertarian paternalism makes will be ruined.

  20. Yunzhu Liu says:

    Libertarian Paternalism is not purely freedom for us to choose what we want. First of all, we do not really know what our options are, how to choose, is that option the most suitable one for us. For most of customers, they do not really care what brand they prefer but only know they need shampoo, chicken or something else. At this point, advertisement will lead consumers to buy what is on the advertisement. Probably it is not the best option, but it is the easiest. That is what Libertarian Paternalism is all about. The whole market, the society or the enviornment are not providing the options without telling us which is the best for us. Most of time, marketing people are thinking about methods to guide consumers and make it like we only have that much options. We as individuals or consumers do not know what we really want. In families, we often choose to listen what our parents say, maybe we don’t like that option but we know that is the easiest so we don’t have to think about other options. For example, your parents offer you to study aboard and at this point you don’t really want to look for jobs, therefore, you would take what parents offered. However, if you know what you really want, for example, to be a hair- styliest, you probably would go to a school that could teach you that instead of studying abroad.
    The point essay has made is that most of things we choose to do maybe are the only options we know, or that option is the convinieced we know instead of the best choice we could have. The whole enviornment has all the control of our choices and different choices we made could cause different lifestyles.

  21. Tuotian Zheng says:

    When deciding how to lead people do the things one want, the whole proposition becomes nothing to do with liberty; why one needs to do things satisfying another. Then paternalism jumped in with power and authority, the hard way to make it happen. To make people will fulfill what they are supposed to do is also a fake proposition, because literally the nature makes people compete. People yield to cooperate not because they will, but they have to. libertarian paternalism is a more civilized way to guide people believe they do that because they do not want to refuse. The change on situation cannot be clearly verified that if it is motivated enough to let people do the job spontaneously, libertarian paternalism is a compromise approach.
    What I get from the article is that people are not sure what to change or if it is worth to change, they just get lost among the choices provided by the ‘ruler’. Libertarian paternalism is just a method used by rulers to lead all the ‘sheep’. The method use psychology way to make some of the choices more obvious that others.

  22. Lisa MacDougall says:

    Mentioned is an article about evaluation of the UK government implementing polices based on the nudge principle. The authors, Jones, Pykett, and Whitehead (Progress in Human Geography, 2011, 35.4: 483-501), detail the issues government face and policies implemented to improve a variety of social issues including health.
    There is a current and regional example of this is with our provincial Nova Scotia Government. THRIVE Strategy was created to help make our communities healthier in response to the obesity epidemic. The Government of Nova Scotia published Thrive! A plan for a healthier Nova Scotia in 2012. The plan is based on social policy and identifies four priority areas to create environments to make it easier to eat healthier and be physically active.
    The actions support four key directions: supporting a healthy start for children and families, equipping people with skills and knowledge for lifelong health, creating more opportunities to eat well and be active, and planning and building healthy communities.
    One of the programs developed is Healthy Eating in Recreation and Sport Settings (HERSS).
    Input was given from around the province and HERSS guidelines were developed. The purpose of the Guidelines is to enable those who work, participate, and support activities in recreation and sport settings to change the food environment to support eating healthier. Guideline objectives are to create a cultural shift towards healthy foods/beverages, increase accessibility and consumption of healthy foods/beverages, decrease accessibility to and consumption of unhealthy foods/beverages.
    An example would be for a municipal hockey rink to adapt a Healthy Eating Policy. The concept is making the healthy food choice the easy choice. Tactics for this include prominently displaying the healthier food/beverage choice, making the healthier food choice less expensive than the unhealthy on, give consumers the choice but have 80% of the menu options healthy with only 20% unhealthy.
    The unhealthy choice is still available but not as easy or obvious option, hopefully influencing positive behavioral change.

  23. Rui Liu(Ray) says:

    Now the United States is entering a “freestyle paternalism” era. The government won’t tell people what should they do, but the government will create an environment which can make people feel to do things easily to conform to their own interests. For example, Government may require the air conditioning manufacturer to equip a light for air conditioner to alert users when it is time to change the filter, and it will more save energy, because people always too lazy to replace filter. However, most people will say they don’t want to, because this kind of patriarchal help and it will inevitably become rigid patriarchal centralized control. The government’s elite makes people do what they want you to do. Policymakers have their specific thinking tendency, even if they have a good original intention but they still always design the imperfect intervention policy.

    • Lianyang Yu says:

      Well, there are different kinds of people, they can be affected in both ways. That is why I think the theory is sometimes unpredictable. Unpredictable is not the thing that on my favourite-thing list. So, I prefer forcing people to do things. Maybe those things are not what they would like to do, but managers and leaders should make people do things that are correct. Affecting people and letting them make choice both need time, so in order to be more efficient, “forcing” is necessary. This is only my opinion anyway.

  24. Lianyang Yu says:

    Libertarian paternalism is a new term for me, and having read the blog, I get to know the meaning of that. This remind me the policy of the government in China. The word libertarian is seldom mentioned in China. The theory of Libertarian Paternalism is predicated on the assumption that individuals make rational decisions, whichcan not be suitable. Sometimes, if not all the time, forcing people to do things are more efficient than affacting their thoughts in order to make people make some specefic choices. Forcing is more direct and time-saving. In my point of view, there is a contradiction in the theory, because it first assumes that that people are rational, then it assumes that people can be affected.

  25. Jianbai Yu says:

    Libertarian paternalism is a relatively weak and nonintrusive type of paternalism,
    because choices are not blocked or fenced off. In its most cautious forms, libertarian
    paternalism imposes trivial costs on those who seek to depart from the planner’s
    preferred option. But the approach we recommend nonetheless counts as paternalistic,
    because private and public planners are not trying to track people’s anticipated choices,
    but are self-consciously attempting to move people in directions that will promote their

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