Monday, November 7, 2011

Interesting source piece: Kent Greenwalt

Kent Greenwalt wrote "Legal Enforcement of Morality," in A Companion to Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory, edited by Dennis Patterson,Wiley-Backwell, 2010.

Several interesting points about the role of information and an action being really voluntary....or not.  He says (p. 473):

One might even argue that choice in ignorance or under conditions when rational assessment is difficult is not really voluntary.  I shall not explore the problem of voluntariness further, but the more robust one conceives the conditions of voluntariness to be, the more one will accept state restrictions as countering undesirable choices that are not sufficiently voluntary. (Emphasis in original; clearly he was looking for the concept of "euvoluntary.")

As usual, the conditions under which exchange is euvoluntary match quite closely the conditions economists assume for perfect competition. Which is why perfect competition is a question-begging assumption.  On the other hand, the idea that the government has the correct information, and the incentives and capacity to make use of it, is no less question-begging.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?