Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 1115–1120 | Cite as

A constitutional paradigm is not enough—would sovereign citizens really agree to manipulative nudges?—A reply to Christian Schubert

  • Martin Binder


In this short note I reply to a comment made by Christian Schubert, who argues that my criticism of libertarian paternalism cannot be upheld under a constitutional economics paradigm. I disagree: it is implausible to assume that sovereign individuals behind a veil of ignorance would actually agree on manipulative nudges from the public sector. Resorting to a constitutional economics paradigm does not diminish the force of the manipulation objection—libertarian paternalism remains morally objectionable. Moreover, where sovereign citizens would agree on permissible (morally legitimate) nudges behind a veil of ignorance, these would no longer constitute “paternalism” under its commonly agreed definition. More constructively, the only morally defensible paternalistic nudges would be those that improve welfare while respecting or, better yet, improving individual autonomy. These are not the typical nudges defended by libertarian paternalists.


Libertarian paternalism Nudges Manipulation Autonomy 



The author wishes to thank Leonhard Pompeius Lades for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bard College BerlinBerlinGermany

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