Why Nudges Coerce: Experimental Evidence on the Architecture of Regulation

Science and Engineering Ethics 24 (4):1279-1295 (2018)
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Abstract

Critics frequently argue that nudges are more covert, less transparent, and more difficult to monitor than traditional regulatory tools. Edward Glaeser, for example, argues that “[p]ublic monitoring of soft paternalism is much more difficult than public monitoring of hard paternalism”. As one of the leading proponents of soft paternalism, Cass Sunstein, acknowledges, while “[m]andates and commands are highly visible”, soft paternalism, “and some nudges in particular[,] may be invisible”. In response to this challenge, proponents of nudging argue that invisibility for any given individual in a particular choice environment is compatible with “careful public scrutiny” of the nudge. This paper offers the first of its kind experimental evidence that tests whether nudges are, in fact, compatible with “careful public scrutiny”. Using three sets of experiments, the paper argues that, even when entirely visible, nudges attract less scrutiny than their “hard law” counterparts.

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References found in this work

Harm to Self.Joel Feinberg - 1986 - Oxford University Press USA.
Debate: To nudge or not to nudge.Daniel M. Hausman & Brynn Welch - 2009 - Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (1):123-136.
The Ethics of Influence: Government in the Age of Behavioral Science.Cass R. Sunstein (ed.) - 2016 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Harm to Self.Joel Feinberg & Donald Vandeveer - 1988 - Ethics 98 (3):550-565.
From Libertarian Paternalism to Nudging—and Beyond.Adrien Barton & Till Grüne-Yanoff - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (3):341-359.

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