Singapore, Dec. 4 -- Recent events such as the Hong Kong protests, suggested tax on sugar and proposed ban on personal mobility devices (PMDs), as well as the cancellation by Yale-NUS College of the "Dialogue and Dissent" module, have raised questions about where the balance between freedom of choice and government intervention lies.

These questions are not new and there are many facets to the debate.

Some of the arguments are philosophical in nature, such as those related to natural rights (which, during the Enlightenment, was used to challenge the divine rights of kings).

Instead of such a philosophical approach, a more pragmatic means of determining the proper extent of government intervention is to weigh the benefits and costs to ...