The Political Morality of Nudges in Healthcare

In I. Glenn Cohen, Holly Fernandez Lynch & Christopher T. Robertson (eds.), Nudging Health: Health Law and Behavioral Economics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 97-106 (2016)
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A common critique of nudges is that they reduce someone's of choices or elicit behavior through means other than rational persuasion. In this paper, I argue against this form of critique. I argue that, if there is anything distinctively worrisome about nudges from the standpoint of morality, it is their tendency to hide the amount of social control that they embody, undermining democratic governance by making it more difficult for members of a political community to detect the social architect’s pulling of the strings. This concern is particularly salient as to choices where it is important for people to directly engage with a certain set of values, “big personal decisions” (to use a simplifying phrase). Many healthcare decisions are exactly these kinds of choices.
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