Choice Architecture: Improving Choice While Preserving Liberty?

In Christian Coons & Michael Weber (eds.), Paternalism. Cambridge University Press (2013)
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Abstract
The past four decades of research in the social sciences have shed light on two important phenomena. One is that human decision-making is full of predicable errors and biases that often lead individuals to make choices that defeat their own ends (i.e., the bad choice phenomenon), and the other is that individuals’ decisions and behaviors are powerfully shaped by their environment (i.e., the influence phenomenon). Some have argued that it is ethically defensible that the influence phenomenon be utilized to address the bad choice phenomenon. They propose that “choice architects” learn about the various ways in which choices can be influenced and directed by the environment, and then work to design environments, broadly construed, that influence individuals towards choices that make them better off. Those who advocate intentionally creating choice environments that lead people to better choices believe that doing so is ethically permissible because (1) it makes people better off, and (2) it does so in a way that is entirely compatible with individual liberty. The evaluation of these two claims is the main focus of this paper.
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Archival date: 2012-02-15
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