Monday, March 10, 2014

Behavioral Economics and Voluntary Cocercion

Dan Ariely on discipline:


Good timing. Adam's piece this week is on prudence.

If you want a mechanism that discourages you from overeating, or from indulging in risky sexual activity, or from you-name-it, why not consider religion?

Libertarians may chafe a little at the suggestion that a church hierarchy imposes "voluntary" coercion, since church membership is quasi-coercive (with possible exceptions for anabaptist sects). And there are, of course, still selection effects for adherence: it still takes diligence to exercise virtuous behavior. Still, on the margin, organized religion seems like a fine, time-tested organization to help folks overcome their little daily irrationalities.

The two examples Ariely used are even classic examples straight out of the Middle Ages: gluttony and lust. Dear temperance, dear prudence,

Won't you come out and play?

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    ReplyDelete

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