Does Altruism Exist?
Auld Lang Syne

Defending Nudges

By Jonathan B. Wight

In “Misconceptions About Nudges.” Cass Sunstein seeks to redeem nudges from the lambast emanating from Kantians and others. I’ll leave it to Mark White to rebut (if he chooses).

Abstract

Some people believe that nudges are an insult to human agency; that nudges are based on excessive trust in government; that nudges are covert; that nudges are manipulative; that nudges exploit behavioral biases; that nudges depend on a belief that human beings are irrational; and that nudges work only at the margins and cannot accomplish much. These are misconceptions. Nudges always respect, and often promote, human agency; because nudges insist on preserving freedom of choice, they do not put excessive trust in government; nudges are generally transparent rather than covert or forms of manipulation; many nudges are educative, and even when they are not, they tend to make life simpler and more navigable; and some nudges have quite large impacts.

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