Free to Choose?

How Americans have become tyrannized by the culture’s overinvestment in choice.
Many of our choices turn out, upon reflection, to be largely meaningless; we are all a lot less free than we generally suppose.
On the contrary, new findings about how badly we perform in the business of decision-making-but also about how limited the choices are for some, and how aggravating an abundance of choice is for others-are cause for reassessing our attachment to liberal paradigms that unthinkingly take choice to be a virtue in and of itself.
If we took seriously the empirical research of psychologists like Kahneman, Tversky and Dan Ariely and accepted that “Simply providing more choice does not necessarily improve individuals’ opportunities to make choices that are good for them,” we would discover that we could all do a better job of determining our preferences if we had some help.
A disciple of University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann and an expert in schooling, Ben-Porath argues instead for what she calls “Structured paternalism,” or more extensive manipulation of the “Choice architecture,” designed to put adults as well as children in a position where they can make “Informed” and “Meaningful” choices.
Most of The Myth of Choice reads as a cheerfully contrarian, verging-on-cute account of the wide variety of unrecognized constraints on free choice that already shape our lives.

Source: Free to Choose?


Originally published at Cogly.

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