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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2015


Robert Sugden has suggested a normative standard of freedom as ‘opportunity’ that is supposed to help realign normative economics – with its traditional rational choice orientation – with behavioural economics. While allowing preferences to be incoherent, he wants to maintain the anti-paternalist stance of orthodox welfare economics. His standard, though, presupposes that people respond to uncertainty about their own future preferences by dismissing any kind of self-constraint. We argue that the approach lacks psychological substance: Sugden's normative benchmark – the ‘responsible person’ – can hardly serve as a convincing role model in a contractarian setting. An alternative concept is introduced, and some implications are briefly discussed.

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