The Possibility of Epistemic Nudging

Social Epistemology 37 (2):208-218 (2023)
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Typically, nudging is a technique for steering the choices of people without giving reasons or using enforcement. In benevolent cases, it is used when people are insufficiently responsive to reason. The nudger triggers automatic cognitive mechanisms – sometimes even biases – in smart ways in order to push irrational people in the right direction. Interestingly, this technique can also be applied to doxastic attitudes. Someone who is doxastically unresponsive to evidence can be nudged into forming true beliefs or doxastic attitudes that are propositionally justified. When doxastic nudging uses non-rational mechanisms, the worry is that nudging cannot result in justified beliefs or knowledge, as the resulting doxastic attitudes lack the right kind of basis. In this paper, I will argue that given the right background views about knowledge, justified beliefs and the relevant processes, epistemic nudging is possible even in these cases. That is, all kinds of nudging can – in appropriate circumstances – produce justified beliefs or knowledge in the nudgee.

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Thomas Grundmann
University of Cologne


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