Slippery Slopes: What Economics Can Teach Us About the Future of Public Policy

Jun 05, 2006
<p> <a href=""> <strong>B. Smith's in Union Station</strong> </a> <br /> 50 Massachusetts Avenue, NE<br /> Washington, DC 20002</p>


Dr. Mario J. Rizzo
Professor of Economics
New York University

Policy debates frequently revolve around so-called "slippery slopes." They appear in discussions about all kinds of social, economic, and legal issues. But are slippery slopes real, or simply a rhetorical device?

The logic of a slippery slope argument is straightforward: a decision made today will affect the normative framework by which decisions are made tomorrow. Frequently it is argued that the enactment of a relatively neutral policy will lead to the creation of negative policies in the future. All sides of issues from taxation to euthanasia rely on slippery slope arguments, and they play a major role in the policy making process.

Applying insights from economics, history, logic, and philosophy, Professor Rizzo will explain the fundamental attributes of slippery slope arguments and help participants better evaluate them. Professor Rizzo's background as a scholar of law and economics as well as ethics and economics make him uniquely placed to help those involved in the policy arena decipher questions about the merits of different slippery slope arguments.