Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Revisiiting the Paternalism of the State

Rubinstein Alexander, Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences

One should not think that paternalism of the state is an invention of the last cen-turies. And although the term came much later, the very same phenomenon emerged in early history, along with the formation of communities of people and the emergence of individuals who speak on behalf of these communities and rep-resent their interests. According to the Theory of Custodial Goods, a society's in-terest is defined in the form of an autonomous interest, unfathomable to the inter-ests of individuals. The bearer of such interest is the state, with the emergence of which the state paternalism also emerged. Attempts to prove an alternative thesis that the state has no interest of its own are also presented in modern literature. Thus, R. Wagner, based on the ideas of F. Hayek, writes "An alternative theoretical framework is the one in which the state is regarded as an order that reconciles the actions of countless participants pursu-ing different goals" (Wagner, 2016, p. 90). In other words, the theoretical framework in which the state is regarded as an or-der ensuring the reducibility of public interest in the interests of individual indi-viduals is based on the premise of a perfect institutional environment. The situa-tion changes radically if this condition is not fulfilled. In this case there are no more grounds to assert that there exists such an order, according to which the in-terests of individuals are transformed into the interest of society as such. An essential motive for the paternalistic choice is a lack of trust in the agent's ability to judge or act rationally (Shiffrin, 2000, p. 4). Wagner R. Fiscal Sociology and Public Finance Theory. Investigative Essay // Economic Sociology, T.17, No. 2. March 2016. C. 88-110 Weber M. Economics and Society: Essays on Understanding Sociology. T.II. - Moscow: Higher School of Economics Publishing House, 2017, 429s. Shiffrin S. (2000). "Paternalism, Unconscionability Doctrine, and Accommoda-tion. Philosophy & Publi


Keywords: paternalism, state, public interest, theory of protected goods,