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A constitutional paradigm is not enough—would sovereign citizens really agree to manipulative nudges?—A reply to Christian Schubert

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  • Martin Binder

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Abstract

In this short note I reply to a comment made by Christian Schubert, who argues that my criticism of libertarian paternalism cannot be upheld under a constitutional economics paradigm. I disagree: it is implausible to assume that sovereign individuals behind a veil of ignorance would actually agree on manipulative nudges from the public sector. Resorting to a constitutional economics paradigm does not diminish the force of the manipulation objection—libertarian paternalism remains morally objectionable. Moreover, where sovereign citizens would agree on permissible (morally legitimate) nudges behind a veil of ignorance, these would no longer constitute “paternalism” under its commonly agreed definition. More constructively, the only morally defensible paternalistic nudges would be those that improve welfare while respecting or, better yet, improving individual autonomy. These are not the typical nudges defended by libertarian paternalists. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Binder, 2014. "A constitutional paradigm is not enough—would sovereign citizens really agree to manipulative nudges?—A reply to Christian Schubert," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(5), pages 1115-1120, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:24:y:2014:i:5:p:1115-1120
    DOI: 10.1007/s00191-014-0377-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Binder & Leonhard K. Lades, 2015. "Autonomy-Enhancing Paternalism," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 3-27, February.
    2. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
    3. Lades, Leonhard K., 2014. "Impulsive consumption and reflexive thought: Nudging ethical consumer behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 114-128.
    4. Leonhard K. Lades, 2012. "Impulsive Consumption and Reflexive Thought: Nudging Ethical Consumer Behavior," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-03, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    5. Schnellenbach Jan, 2011. "Wohlwollendes Anschubsen: Was ist mit liberalem Paternalismus zu erreichen und was sind seine Nebenwirkungen?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 12(4), pages 445-459, November.
    6. Christian Schubert, 2014. "Evolutionary economics and the case for a constitutional libertarian paternalism—a comment on Martin Binder, “should evolutionary economists embrace libertarian paternalism?”," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(5), pages 1107-1113, November.
    7. Martin Binder, 2014. "Should evolutionary economists embrace libertarian paternalism?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 515-539, July.
    8. Binder, Martin & Lades, Leonhard K, 2014. "Autonomy-enhancing paternalism," 2007 Annual Meeting, July 29-August 1, 2007, Portland, Oregon TN 2015-02, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    9. Schnellenbach, Jan, 2012. "Nudges and norms: On the political economy of soft paternalism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 266-277.
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