Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Coercive paternalism and the intelligence continuum

  • NATHAN COFNAS (a1)
Abstract

Thaler and Sunstein advocate ‘libertarian paternalism’. A libertarian paternalist changes the conditions under which people act so that their cognitive biases lead them to choose what is best for themselves. Although libertarian paternalism manipulates people, Thaler and Sunstein say that it respects their autonomy by preserving the possibility of choice. Conly argues that libertarian paternalism does not go far enough, since there is no compelling reason why we should allow people the opportunity to choose to bring disaster upon themselves if sometimes they will make the wrong decision. She defends ‘coercive paternalism’. The present paper argues that errors in reasoning are not due only to cognitive biases. People also make errors because they have an insufficient level of general intelligence. Intelligence is distributed on a continuum. Those who fall on higher levels of the continuum have greater abilities, in certain contexts, to reason about both their own and others’ interests. Coercive paternalism may sometimes be appropriate to prevent less intelligent people from engaging in self-destructive behavior due to errors of reasoning.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Coercive paternalism and the intelligence continuum
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Coercive paternalism and the intelligence continuum
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Coercive paternalism and the intelligence continuum
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Correspondence to: Nathan Cofnas. Email: nathan.cofnas@balliol.ox.ac.uk
References
Hide All
Ariely, D. (2008), Predictably irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decisions, New York: HarperCollins.
Beier, M. E. and Ackerman, P. L. (2003), ‘Determinants of health knowledge: An investigation of age, gender, abilities, personality, and interests’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84: 439448.
Carroll, J. B. (1993), Human cognitive abilities: A survey of factor-analytic studies, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Cofnas, N. (2016), ‘A teleofunctional account of evolutionary mismatch’, Biology & Philosophy, 31: 507525.
Conly, S. (2013), Against autonomy: Justifying coercive paternalism, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Davis, T. C., Crouch, M. A., Wills, G., Miller, S. and Abdehou, D. M. (1990), ‘The gap between patient reading comprehension and the readability of patient education materials’, The Journal of Family Practice, 31: 533538.
Deary, I. J., Whalley, L. J. and Starr, J. M. (2003), ‘IQ at age 11 and longevity: Results from a follow-up of the Scottish Mental Survey 1932’, in Finch, C. E., Robine, J.-M. and Christen, Y. (eds.), Brain and longevity, Berlin: Springer.
Dworkin, G. (2017), ‘Paternalism’, in Zalta, E. N. (ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Winter 2017 ed.). https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2017/entries/paternalism/
Edmonds, C. J., Isaacs, E. B., Visscher, P. M., Rogers, M., Lanigan, J., Singhal, A., Lucas, A., Gringras, P., Denton, J. and Deary, I. J. (2008), ‘Inspection time and cognitive abilities in twins aged 7 to 17 years: Age-related changes, heritability and genetic covariance’, Intelligence, 36: 210225.
Feinberg, J. (1986), The moral limits of the criminal law, Vol. 3: Harm to self, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gordon, R. A. (1997), ‘Everyday life as an intelligence test: Effects of intelligence and intelligence context’, Intelligence, 24: 203320.
Gottfredson, L. S. (1997), ‘Why g matters: The complexity of everyday life’, Intelligence, 24: 79132.
Gottfredson, L. S. (2004a), ‘Intelligence: Is it the epidemiologists’ elusive “fundamental cause” of social class inequalities in health?’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86: 174199.
Gottfredson, L. S. (2004b), ‘Life, death, and intelligence’, Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 4: 2346.
Gottfredson, L. S. (2005), ‘Suppressing intelligence research: Hurting those we intend to help’, in Wright, R. H. and Cummings, N. A. (eds.), Destructive trends in mental health: The well-intentioned path to harm, New York: Routledge.
Gottfredson, L. S. and Deary, I. J. (2004), ‘Intelligence predicts health and longevity, but why?’, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13: 14.
Haier, R. J. (2017), The neuroscience of intelligence, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Herrnstein, R. J. and Murray, C. (1994), The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life, New York: Free Press.
Hobbes, T. (1651/1996), Leviathan, or the matter, forme, & power of a common-wealth ecclesiasticall and civill, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Iuga, A. O. and McGuire, M. J. (2014), ‘Adherence and health care costs’, Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 7: 3544.
Kahneman, D. (2011), Thinking, fast and slow, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Kanazawa, S. (2004), ‘General intelligence as a domain-specific adaptation’, Psychological Review, 111: 512523.
Kanazawa, S. (2010), ‘Why liberals and atheists are more intelligent’, Social Psychology Quarterly, 73: 3357.
Kanazawa, S. (2013), ‘Childhood intelligence and adult obesity’, Obesity, 21: 434440.
Kanazawa, S. (2014), ‘Intelligence and obesity: Which way does the causal direction go?’, Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity, 21: 339344.
Kanazawa, S. and Hellberg, J. E. E. U. (2010), ‘Intelligence and substance use’, Review of General Psychology, 14: 382396.
Kirsch, I. S., Jungeblut, A., Jenkins, L. and Kolstad, A. (2002), Adult literacy in America: A first look at the findings of the National Adult Literacy Survey, Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
Mill, J. S. (1859/1991), ‘On liberty’, in Gray, J. (ed.) On liberty and other essays, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Neisser, U., Boodoo, G., Bouchard, T. J. Jr., Boykin, A. W., Brody, N., Ceci, S. J., Halpern, D. F., Loehlin, J. C., Perloff, R., Sternberg, R. J. and Urbina, S. (1996), ‘Intelligence: Knowns and unknowns’, American Psychologist, 51: 77101.
O'Toole, B. I. (1990), ‘Intelligence and behaviour and motor vehicle accident mortality’, Accident Analysis & Prevention, 22: 211221.
O'Toole, B. I. and Stankov, L. (1992), ‘Ultimate validity of psychological tests’, Personality and Individual Differences, 13: 699716.
Rachlinski, J. J. (2006), ‘Cognitive errors, individual differences, and paternalism’, The University of Chicago Law Review, 73: 207229.
Spearman, C. (1904), ‘“General intelligence,” objectively determined and measured’, The American Journal of Psychology, 15: 201292.
Spearman, C. (1927), The abilities of man: Their nature and measurement, London: Macmillan.
Stanovich, K. E. and West, R. F. (2000), ‘Individual differences in reasoning: Implications for the rationality debate?’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23: 645665.
Sunstein, C. R. (2014), Why nudge? The politics of libertarian paternalism, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Taylor, M. D., Hart, C. L., Smith, G. D., Starr, J. M., Hole, D. J., Whalley, L. J., Wilson, V. and Deary, I. J. (2003), ‘Childhood mental ability and smoking cessation in adulthood: Prospective observational study linking the Scottish Mental Survey 1932 and the Midspan studies’, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 57: 464465.
Thaler, R. H. and Sunstein, C. R. (2008), Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Weiser, M., Zarka, S., Werbeloff, N., Kravitz, E. and Lubin, G. (2010), ‘Cognitive test scores in male adolescent cigarette smokers compared to non-smokers: A population-based study’, Addiction, 105: 358363.
Wennerstad, K. M., Silventoinen, K., Tynelius, P., Bergman, L., Kaprio, J. and Rasmussen, F. (2010), ‘Associations between IQ and cigarette smoking among Swedish male twins’, Social Science & Medicine, 70: 575581.
Wikler, D. (1979), ‘Paternalism and the mildly retarded’, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 8: 377392.
Williams, M. V., Baker, D. W., Parker, R. M. and Nurss, J. R. (1998), ‘Relationship of functional health literacy to patients’ knowledge of their chronic disease: A study of patients with hypertension and diabetes’, Archives of Internal Medicine, 158: 166172.
Williams, M. V., Parker, R. M., Baker, D. W., Parikh, N. S., Pitkin, K., Coates, W. C. and Nurss, J. R. (1995), ‘Inadequate functional health literacy among patients at two public hospitals’, JAMA, 274: 16771682.
Yu, Z. B., Han, S. P., Cao, X. G. and Guo, X. R. (2010), ‘Intelligence in relation to obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis’, Obesity Reviews, 11: 656670.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioural Public Policy
  • ISSN: 2398-063X
  • EISSN: 2398-0648
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioural-public-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed