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The Manipulation of Choice: Ethics and Libertarian Paternalism Paperback – Jan 30 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 185 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2013 edition (Feb. 4 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1137287764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1137287762
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1.1 x 27.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,835,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"The 'libertarian paternalism' theory promises to use the state to help correct citizens' wrong decisions without asking their consent, yet also without truly entering the realm of coercion. Too good to be true? Indeed it is, as this book helps to show. Mark White gives us the sort of analysis we need to nudge back." - Walter Olson, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute, USA

"The Manipulation of Choice states that paternalists impose their own values and goals onto hapless consumers and citizens. Hence, public policies designed to correct the imperfections of behavioral irrationality are coercive. This is an important point and one that needs to be debated." - Jonathan B. Wight, Professor of Economics and International Studies, University of Richmond, USA

"An important book on a timely topic. The Manipulation of Choice is an accessible book that is especially well suited for students. But it is also a welcome challenge to a currently fashionable theory that libertarians and paternalists alike should read with pleasure. Mark White . . . challenges the moral foundations of the entire research program." - The Independent Review

"The work is a solid, compelling read for anyone interested in a concise but comprehensive account of the case against libertarian paternalism and its theoretical foundations. In the course of battling libertarian paternalism and its underlying theories, White simultaneously builds a positive case for individual freedom in defence of more traditional, non-paternalistic paradigms of libertarian philosophy and economics." - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics

"White addresses our increasing faith in quantification . . . The more relentlessly you measure people's behavior, the greater the temptation to steer that behavior in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways . . . A quantified state optimizes outcomes by narrowing possibilities - and establishing 'efficiency and uplift for all' as the new national mandate. You don't need a sophisticated sensor network to register that as a step backward." - Greg Beato, Reason, on The Manipulation of Choice and The Illusion of Well-Being

About the Author

Mark D. White is Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, USA, where he teaches courses in philosophy, economics, and law. He is the author of four books, including The Illusion of Well-Being (2014) and The Manipulation of Choice (2013), plus over forty journal articles and book chapters in the intersections between his three fields. He has also edited or co-edited a number of books, including Retributivism (2011), The Thief of Time (with Chrisoula Andreou, 2010), and Theoretical Foundations of Law and Economics (2009), and he is the editor of the Perspectives from Social Economics series at Palgrave Macmillan.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa4610990) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa461a7bc) out of 5 stars Important reading May 27 2013
By Academic Lawyer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
White's discussion of the so-called "libertarian paternalism" is thorough and important. He does some valuable debunking of both the problems inherent in libertarian paternalism, an attempt to have your cake and eat it too, and perhaps even more importantly, the similar shortcomings of conventional economic thought for resolving many social ills and addressing the places where markets fail.

Alas, his critique suffers from some of the same shortcomings as he charges others, particularly conventional economists, with -- that is, he makes some assumptions about the nature of the relationship between buyers and sellers in the modern marketplace that seem to be of dubious empirical foundation. For instance, he claims that buyers and sellers are "natural" antagonists and he acknowledges that sellers often attempt to manipulate buyers. But he asserts that this mostly works out and buyers' skepticism toward advertising mostly insulates them. White's construction of the marketplace is one in which there is rough equivalence between buyers and sellers and it is the government and its meddling interference on paternalistic grounds with which we ought to be most concerned. However, this rosy picture of functional equivalence is not accurate. Sellers, especially the largest ones, have far more resources at their disposal for persuasion than could ever be adequately defended against by any individual. Indeed, because human beings have limited time and attention, there is no possibility of doing adequate research on all of one's consumer purchases, even supposing that there were no cognitive limitations as well. Of course there are cognitive, resource, and time constraints that make the playing field quite tilted and White does not really grapple with this reality. Instead, he conjures up an imaginary world of rough equivalence.

Still, this is a must read for anyone interested in the issues of paternalism and regulation.
HASH(0xa461f5a0) out of 5 stars STOP NUDGING! April 19 2016
By Ross Levatter - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thoughtful philosophical analysis of the problems with behaviorial economics and, even more so, forcing its "solutions" on others.