BenHoffman comments on Where should anti-paternalists donate? - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: BenHoffman 05 May 2017 08:45:53PM *  1 point [-]

But there are also factors pushing the other way - e.g. biases about spending on personal health, positive externalities etc - that counterbalance a presumption against paternalism.

It's not obvious to me that the "near" bias about one's own health is generically worse than our "far" bias about what to do about the health of people far away. For instance, we might have a bias towards action that's not shared by, e.g., the children who feel sick after their worm chemo, or getting bit by mosquitos through their supposedly mosquito-proof bednets. (I'm not sure how bad either of these problems are relative to the benefits, and that's the problem - we really don't know. I'll note that Living Goods does sell some deworming pills, so at least some people in poor countries think it's in their interest to take them.)

It's also not obvious that positive externalities are generically more likely with paternalistic interventions. For instance, in a recent Reddit AMA, GiveDirectly basic income recipients reported that there was much less social conflict in their community once people started receiving basic income - they started imposing fewer costs on each other once they were more secure in meeting their basic needs.

It does seem to me like each of these considerations - if it points in the right direction for any given comparison - could contribute to overcoming the paternalism objection.