The Moral Permissibility of Nudges

Florida Philosophical Review 19 (1):33-47 (2020)
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Nudging is the idea that people’s decisions and behaviors can be influenced in predictable, non-coercive ways by making small changes to the choice architecture. In this paper, I differentiate between type-1 nudges and type-2 nudges according to the thinking processes involved in each. With this distinction in hand, I present the libertarian paternalistic criteria for the moral permissibility of intentional nudges. Having done this, I motivate an objection to type-1 nudges. According to this objection, type-1 nudges do not appear to be relevantly different than standard cases of manipulation, and manipulation is morally problematic. While I show that this objection fails, I argue that its evaluation raises a different challenge for Libertarian Paternalism. The libertarian paternalistic criteria fails because it ignores the moral distinction that exists between different kinds of nudges. That is, the distinction between what I call ‘counteractive’ and ‘non-counteractive’ nudges. I end by suggesting a revision of the criteria that avoids the problem.
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First archival date: 2020-06-04
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