Freedom of choice and bounded rationality: a brief appraisal of behavioral economists’ plea for light paternalism.
Behavioral economics has addressed interesting positive and normative questions underlying the standard rational choice theory. More recently, it suggests that, in a real world of boundedly rational agents, economists could help people to improve the quality of their choices without any harm to autonomy and freedom of choice. This paper aims to scrutinize available arguments for and against current proposals of light paternalistic interventions mainly in the domain of intertemporal choice. It argues that incorporating the notion of bounded rationality in economic analysis and empirical findings of cognitive biases and self-control problems cannot make an indisputable case for paternalism.