In their recently published book Nudge (2008) Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (T&S) defend a position labelled as ‘libertarian paternalism’. Their thinking appeals to both the right and the left of the political spectrum, as evidenced by the bedfellows they keep on either side of the Atlantic. In the US, they have advised Barack Obama, while, in the UK, they were welcomed with open arms by the David Cameron's camp (Chakrabortty 2008). I will consider the following questions. What is Nudge? How is it different from social advertisement? Does Nudge induce genuine preference change? Does Nudge build moral character? Is there a moral difference between the use of Nudge as opposed to subliminal images to reach policy objectives? And what are the moral constraints on Nudge?
- Capital Punishment
- Pension Fund
- Cognitive Dissonance
- Preference Structure
- Preference Change
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout
Purchases are for personal use onlyLearn about institutional subscriptions
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
Bovens, L. 1992. Sour Grapes and Character Planning. Journal of Philosophy 84: 57–78.
Bovens, L. 1995. The Intentional Acquisition of Mental States. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55: 821–840.
Chakrabortty, A. 2008. From Obama to Cameron, Why Do so Many Politicians Want a Piece of Richard Thaler? Guardian July 12.
Elster, J. 1983. Sour Grapes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gittings, R. K. and N. Mocan. 2003. Getting Off Death Row: Commuted Sentences and the Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment. Journal of Law and Economics 46: 453–478.
Hume, D. 1978. A Treatise of Human Nature. (2nd Ed.) Edited by L.A. Selby-Bigge. Oxford: Clarendon.
McClennen, E. F. 1990 Rationality and Dynamic Choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Savage, J. 1954. Foundations of Statistics. New York: Wiley.
Smith, A. 1968. The Essential Adam Smith. Edited by R. L. Heilbroner. New York: Norton.
Sunstein, C. R. and R. H. Thaler. 2003. Libertarian Paternalism Is Not an Oxymoron. University of Chicago Law Review 70: 1159–1202.
Thaler, R. H. and C. R. Sunstein. 2003. Libertarian Paternalism. American Economic Review 93: 175–179.
Thaler, R. H. and C. R. Sunstein. 2008. Nudge. London: Yale University Press.
Editors and Affiliations
© 2009 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Bovens, L. (2009). The Ethics of Nudge . In: Grüne-Yanoff, T., Hansson, S.O. (eds) Preference Change. Theory and Decision Library, vol 42. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2593-7_10
Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht
Print ISBN: 978-90-481-2592-0
Online ISBN: 978-90-481-2593-7