British sociologist Julian Le Grand has noted that public policy is grounded in a conception of humans as “knights,” “knaves,” or “pawns.”1 Human beings are motivated by virtue (knights) or self-interest (knaves) or are passive respondents to their circumstances (pawns). A society's view influences whether it builds public policies that are permissive, punitive, or prescriptive.
Jain SH, Rother J. Are Patients Knights, Knaves, or Pawns?. JAMA. 2011;305(20):2112–2113. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.694