Resisting Moralisation in Health Promotion

REBECCA C. H. BROWN

ETHICAL THEORY AND MORAL PRACTICE

Abstract: Health promotion efforts are commonly directed towards encouraging people to discard ‘unhealthy’ and adopt ‘healthy’ behaviours in order to tackle chronic disease. Typical targets for behaviour change interventions include diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption, sometimes described as ‘lifestyle behaviours.’ In this paper, I discuss how efforts to raise awareness of the impact of lifestyles on health, in seeking to communicate the (perceived) need for people to change their behaviour, can contribute to a climate of ‘healthism’ and promote the moralisation of people’s lifestyles. I begin by summarising recent trends in health promotion and introducing the notion of healthism, as described by Robert Crawford in the 1980s. One aspect of healthism is moralisation, which I outline (alongside the related term moralism) and suggest is facilitated by efforts to promote health via information provision and educational strategies. I propose that perceived responsibility plays a role in mediating the tendency to moralise about health and behaviour. Since I argue that states ought to avoid direct and indirect moralisation of people’s health-related behaviour, this suggests states must be cautious with regard to the use of responsibility-indicating interventions (including informational and educational campaigns) to promote health.

Empatía y moralidad: las dimensiones psicológicas y filosóficas de una relación compleja

BELÉN ALTUNA

REVISTA DE FILOSOFÍA

Resumen: Para algunos la empatía es “el centro del universo moral”, mientras que para otros juega un papel secundario o, en todo caso, éticamente poco fiable. Acudiendo tanto a sus precursores filosóficos –como Hume y Smith–, como a sus investigadores contemporáneos en el campo de la psicología – como Hoffman y Batson–, este artículo elabora una defensa ponderada del papel de la empatía en la motivación, el desarrollo y el juicio morales, reconociendo sus limitaciones.

Do dictatorships redistribute more?

PANTELIS KAMMAS, VASSILIS SARANTIDES

JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE ECONOMICS

Abstract: This paper examines the effect of political institutions on fiscal redistribution for a country-level panel from 1960–2010. Using data on Gini coefficients before and after government intervention, we apply a measure of effective fiscal redistribution that reflects the effect of taxes and transfers on income inequality. Our findings clearly indicate that non-democratic regimes demonstrate significantly greater direct fiscal redistribution. Subsequently, we employ fiscal data in an attempt to enlighten this puzzling empirical finding. We find that dictatorial regimes rely more heavily on cash transfers that exhibit a direct impact on net inequality and consequently on the difference between market and net inequality (i.e., effective fiscal redistribution), whereas democratic regimes devote a larger amount of resources to public inputs (health and education) that may influence market inequality but not the difference between market and net inequality per se. We argue that the driving force behind the observed differences within the pattern on government spending and effective fiscal redistribution is that democratic institutions lead survival-oriented leaders to care more for the private market, and thus to follow policies that enhance the productivity of the whole economy.

The People’s Perspective on Libertarian-Paternalistic Policies

AYALA ARAD, ARIEL RUBINSTEIN

THE JOURNAL OF LAW AND ECONOMICS, Volume 61, Number 2

Abstract: We examine the views toward libertarian-paternalistic (soft) governmental interventions in a series of online experiments conducted in three countries. We use both standard and new methods to elicit attitudes toward soft interventions in various hypothetical scenarios. The majority of the participants accept these types of interventions by the government. However, a substantial proportion opposes them and would prefer that the government simply provide information to help the public make the right choice rather than use a more effective choice architecture intervention. Some even refuse to make the choice that the government promotes, although they would have done so in the absence of the intervention. The opposition to soft interventions appears to be driven by concerns about manipulation and the fear of a slippery slope to nonconsensual interventions. Opposition to soft interventions is reduced when they are implemented by employers rather than the government.

Working Out the Details of Hume and Smith on Sympathy

JOHN MCHUGH

JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY

Abstract: Many scholars have had interesting things to say about the relationship between Adam Smith’s and David Hume’s theories of sympathy. The diversity of angles taken in these discussions demonstrates how fertile a topic of investigation this relationship is. This paper takes as its point of entry Hume’s criticism of Smith’s theory. Focusing on Hume’s claim that Smith’s theory describes a phenomenon that only occurs among friends, I argue that the disagreement between them is more about the importance than about the existence of what Smith calls the “pleasure of mutual sympathy.” I conclude that this difference in emphasis might suggest a fundamental difference not just in how they conceive of human sociality but also in the motivations and influences behind their work.

Correctional Autonomy and Authority in the Rise of Mass Incarceration

KERAMET REITER, KELSIE CHESNUT

ANNUAL REVIEW OF LAW AND SOCIAL SCIENCE

Abstract: Much of the literature explaining both mass incarceration and increasingly harsh punishment policies has been dominated by a focus on factors external to prisons, such as macrolevel explanations that point to political factors (like a popular rhetoric of governing through crime) or social structures (like the presence or absence of a strong welfare state). Where scholarship has focused on factors internal to prisons, explanations have often focused less on individual actors or correctional influence and more on processes, such as routinization, legalization, and risk management. This article argues for the importance of an additional explanatory factor in understanding the phenomenon of mass incarceration: the internal and relatively individualized influence of correctional officials, especially mid-level bureaucrats, who exercise autonomy and authority not only over prisoners and prison policy implementation but over policy initiation.

Titles for me but not for thee: transitional gains trap of property rights extension in Colombia

PERRY FERRELL

PUBLIC CHOICE

Abstract: I apply Tullock’s transitional gains trap to the formalization of property titles in Latin America to understand public choice problems in mending institutions. In an area where land is owned by formal and informal institutions, policies to extend property rights will not be supported by voters holding legal title because it will devalue their property. To test this I use data from Colombia where a peace deal to end a 50-year conflict with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels was reached in 2016 and put to a public referendum. The deal included formalization of property titles across the nation as well as an end to the conflict. Using municipal-level data on voting and property ownership and controlling for conflict history, I find potential losses to formal property holders pushed median voter preferences toward dissension. A 1% increase in legally titled land increases dissenting vote share by 3% points. These results are relevant to institutional reforms anywhere with corrupted property rights.