Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 385–395 | Cite as

A Political Justification of Nudging

  • Francesco Guala
  • Luigi Mittone


Thaler and Sunstein justify nudge policies from welfaristic premises: nudges are acceptable because they benefit the individuals who are nudged. A tacit assumption behind this strategy is that we can identify the true preferences of decision-makers. We argue that this assumption is often unwarranted, and that as a consequence nudge policies must be justified in a different way. A possible strategy is to abandon welfarism and endorse genuine paternalism. Another one is to argue that the biases of decision that choice architects attempt to eliminate create externalities. For example, in the case of intertemporal discounting, the costs of preference reversals are not always paid by the discounters, because they are transferred onto other individuals. But if this is the case, then nudges are best justified from a political rather than welfaristic standpoint.


Myopia Choice Architect Behavioural Economist Preference Ranking Neoclassical Economic 
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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative MethodsUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Economics and Management, and CEELUniversità degli Studi di TrentoTrentoItaly

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