Richard Thaler, co-author of Nudge, defends soft paternalism against Whitman:

If libertarian paternalism creates a slope risk then real paternalism must generate a “cliff” risk. But have we seen this in history? In America we started as Puritans but moved away from it. When Prohibition was passed into law it did not lead to a slew of other paternalistic interventions. On the contrary, once society got to see prohibition in action, the law was eventually repealed. Is there any evidence of a paternalistic slide? The only example Whitman gives is smoking, where there certainly has been a progression of increasingly intrusive laws passed. But there are several problems with this example. First, most of the anti-smoking laws are based on externalities, not paternalism. People do not want to fly, eat, or work in smoke-filled environments. Indeed, many smokers favor such laws. Note that while smoking bans are not nudges, they are shoves, even these shoves do not seem to have led to a batch of similar crackdowns in other domains. I have not seen any municipality institute a ban on loud talking in restaurants, for example, though come to think of it...

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