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Jason Brennan Christopher Freiman

Abstract

Recent findings from psychology and behavioral economics suggest that we are “predictably irrational” in the pursuit of our interests. Paternalists from both the social sciences and philosophy use these findings to defend interfering with people's consumption choices for their own good. We should tax soda, ban cigarettes, and mandate retirement savings to make people healthier and wealthier than they’d be on their own. Our thesis is that the standard arguments offered in support of restricting people’s consumption choices for their own good also imply support for “epistocratic” restrictions on people’s voting choices for their own good. Indeed, the philosophical case for paternalistic restrictions on voting choices may be stronger than the case for restricting personal consumption choices. So, paternalists face a dilemma: either endorse less interference with consumption choices or more interference with voting choices.

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