Irresistible Nudges, Inevitable Nudges, and the Freedom to Choose

Moral Philosophy and Politics 8 (2):285-303 (2021)
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In this paper, I examine how nudges affect the autonomy and freedom of those nudged. I consider two arguments put forth by Thaler and Sunstein for the claim that these effects can only be minor. According to the first of these arguments, nudges cannot significantly restrict a person’s autonomy or freedom since they are easy to resist. According to the second argument, the existence of nudges is inevitable, and thus, pursuing libertarian paternalism by nudging people doesn’t make a relevant difference to people’s autonomy and freedom. After arguing that both of these arguments fail, I elucidate the general conditions in which, and the degrees to which, a person’s autonomy and freedom are affected by nudges. One focus of this discussion concerns how people’s autonomy and freedom are affected if—for example, due to progress in information technology—nudges become more effective, more individualized and more common, and affect more people.



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Jens Kipper
University of Rochester

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References found in this work

Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829-839.
The Paradoxes of Time Travel.David K. Lewis - 1976 - American Philosophical Quarterly 13 (2):145-152.
How to defeat opposition to Moore.Ernest Sosa - 1999 - Philosophical Perspectives 13:137-49.
Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink: Nudging is Giving Reasons.Neil Levy - 2019 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 6.

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