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Public Choice

, Volume 171, Issue 3–4, pp 429–432 | Cite as

Cass R. Sunstein: The ethics of influence: government in the age of behavioral science

Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, 2016, ix + 224 pp, 29.99 (cloth)
  • Michael David Thomas
Book Review

Cass Sunstein’s, The Ethics of Influence, is a remarkable book that readers of Public Choice should find useful for three reasons. First, this volume aggregates arguments that Sunstein makes in other works. In doing so, Sunstein address how his arguments about nudging intersect with issues important to readers of Public Choice. Second, Sunstein places nudges in the context of public choice concerns in order to answer some common objections. Third, readers will see a distinction between Sunstein’s ideas and important ideas in public choice, such as Buchanan’s “status of the status quo” and the role of experts when confronting Hayek’s knowledge problem.

In Chapter 1 Sunstein advances the thesis that behavioral science is winning both in terms of political popularity and policy influence. Nudging is the new way of thinking about the scope and scale of government. Sunstein disputes the view that “…nudges look like propaganda” (p. 11). Instead, he sees the status quo of non-intervention as...

References

  1. Buchanan, J. M. (2004). The status of the status quo. Constitutional Political Economy, 15, 133–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Conly, S. (2014). Against autonomy: Justifying coercive paternalism. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Hasnas, J. (1995). The myth of the rule of law. Wisconsin Law Review, 1995(1), 199–234.Google Scholar
  4. Kirzner, I. (1985). Discovery and the capitalist process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Mill, J. S. (2009). On liberty and other writings. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Heider College of BusinessCreighton UniversityOmahaUSA

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