March 1, 2006

How Much Benevolence Is Benevolence Enough?

  • Peter Leeson

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Political agents in charge of policy under democracy confront a dilemma like that faced in 'stag hunt' games. The absence of an effective enforcement mechanism for punishing politicians who cater to special interests gives political agents strong reason to doubt the commitment of their fellowstatesmen to the public welfare. As a result, even when policymakers are partially benevolent towards the public, they are still led to cater to special interests and society fares no better off than if politicians were strictly self-interested. Political agent benevolence is thus an all-or-nothing proposition. Unless benevolence is total, policy looks the same.

Read the article at SpringerLink.