Social Choice and Welfare

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 459–480 | Cite as

Decision sciences and the new case for paternalism: three welfare-related justificatory challenges

  • Roberto Fumagalli
Original Paper


Several authors have recently advocated a so-called new case for paternalism, according to which empirical findings from distinct decision sciences provide compelling reasons in favour of paternalistic interference. In their view, the available behavioural and neuro-psychological findings enable paternalists to address traditional anti-paternalistic objections and reliably enhance the well-being of their target agents. In this paper, I combine insights from decision-making research, moral philosophy and evidence-based policy evaluation to assess the merits of this case. In particular, I articulate and defend three complementary arguments that, I claim, challenge even the best available calls for such case. In doing so, I identify the main justificatory challenges faced by the new paternalists and explicate the implications of these challenges for the ongoing philosophical debate about the justifiability of paternalistic interference.


Target Agent Choice Architect Welfare Implication Libertarian Paternalist Paternalistic Intervention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I wish to thank Richard Arneson, Boudewijn de Bruin, Daniel Hausman, Christian Piller, Mario Rizzo, Ariel Rubinstein, Rudolf Schussler, Bob Sugden, Attila Tanyi, J.D. Trout and Alex Voorhoeve for their comments on previous versions of this paper. I also benefited from the observations of two anonymous referees and audiences at the University of Hamburg, the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, the University of Valencia, the University of Groningen, the University of Manchester, the University of Edinburgh, the University of York, and New York University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.London School of EconomicsLondonUK
  3. 3.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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