Risk Aversion, Ignorance, and Institutions of Liberty


This colloquium examined the influence of individual emotional dispositions and cognitive capacities on individual liberty and on understandings of economic and political institutions. In particular, we examined arguments about the emotional and cognitive basis of institutional design in present-day democracies.


Conference Readings

Berlin, Isaiah. Liberty. Edited by Henry Hardy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Buchanan, James M. “Afraid to be free: Dependency as desideratum.” Public Choice 124 (2005): 19-31.

Caplan, Bryan. The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Fromm, Erich. Escape from Freedom. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 1994.

Gaus, Gerald. “Is the Public Incompetent? Compared to Whom? About What?” Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 20, no. 3 (2008): 291-311.

Hayek, F. A. The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume II: The Road to Serfdom - Text and Documents - The Definitive Edition. Edited by Bruce Caldwell. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Pincione, Guido and Fernando Tesón. Rational Choice and Democratic Deliberation. A Theory of Discourse Failure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Rizzo, Mario J. and Douglas Glen Whitman. “Little Brother is Watching You: New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes.” Arizona Law Review 51, no. 3 (2009): 685-739.

Somin, Ilya. “Voter Ignorance and the Democratic Ideal.” Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 12, no. 4 (Fall 1998): 413-458.

Thaler, Richard H. and Cass R. Sunstein. “Libertarian Paternalism Is Not an Oxymoron.” The University of Chicago Law Review 70, no. 4 (Fall 2003): 1159-1190, 1199-1202.

Vanberg, Viktor J. “On the Economics of Moral Preferences.” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 67, no. 4 (October 2008): 605-628.