- The Oxford Handbook of Freedom
- Self-Ownership as a Form of Ownership
- Positive Freedom and the General Will
- Moralized Conceptions of Liberty
- On the Conflict Between Liberty and Equality
- Freedom and Equality
- The Point of Self-Ownership
- Platonic Freedom
- Aristotelian Freedom
- Freedom in the Scholastic Tradition
- Freedom, Slavery, and Identity in Renaissance Florence: The Faces of Leon Battista Alberti
- Freedom and Enlightenment
- Adam Smith’s Libertarian Paternalism
- Market Failure, the Tragedy of the Commons, and Default Libertarianism in Contemporary Economics and Policy
- Planning, Freedom, and the Rule of Law
- Freedom, Regulation, and Public Policy
- Boundaries, Subjection to Laws, and Affected Interests
- Democracy and Freedom
- Can Constitutions Limit Government?
- Freedom and Religion
- Freedom and Influence in Formative Education
- Freedom and the (Posthumous) Harm Principle
- Exploitation and Freedom
- Voluntariness, Coercion, Self-ownership
- The Impartial Spectator and the Moral Teachings of Markets
- Disciplinary Specialization and Thinking for Yourself
- Free Will as a Psychological Accomplishment
- Prisoners of Misbelief: The Epistemic Conditions of Freedom
Abstract and Keywords
Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein argue for “libertarian paternalism,” defined as the strategy to devise policy that will “maintain or increase freedom of choice” and at the same time “influence people’s behavior in order to make their lives longer, healthier, and better”. These two goals are often in conflict, and striking the right balance between them has proved difficult in both theory and practice. Where does Adam Smith fall in this debate? This chapter argues that Smith developed his own version of “libertarian paternalism.” It differs in important ways from that of Thaler and Sunstein, but it shares with them an attempt to balance respect for individual autonomy with a desire to help people lead better lives. Smith’s position accommodates the importance of both liberty and paternalism in enabling individuals to construct lives worth living, while avoiding some of the problems that have beset more recent versions of libertarian paternalism.
James R. Otteson is Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics and Professor of Economics at Wake Forest University.
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