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Is Soft Paternalism Ethically Legitimate? - The Relevance of Psychological Processes for the Assessment of Nudge-Based Policies

Listed author(s):
  • Mira Fischer

    (University of Cologne)

  • Sebastian Lotz

    (Stanford University)

In this article we develop a taxonomy of behavioral policy measures proposed by Thaler and Sunstein (2008). Based on this taxonomy, we discuss the ethical legitimacy of these measures. First, we explain two common reservations against nudges (choice architecture) rooted in utilitarian and Kantian ethics. In addition to wellbeing, we identify freedom of action and freedom of will (autonomy) as relevant ethical criteria. Then, using practical examples, we develop a taxonomy that classifies nudges according to the psychological mechanisms they use and separately discuss the legitimacy of several types of behavioral policy measures. We hope to thereby make a valuable contribution to the debate on the ethical legitimacy of behavioral policy making.

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File URL: http://www.cgs.uni-koeln.de/fileadmin/wiso_fak/cgs/pdf/working_paper/cgswp_05-02.pdf
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Paper provided by Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences in its series Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series with number 05-02.

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Date of creation: 09 May 2014
Handle: RePEc:cgr:cgsser:05-02
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  1. C. Christian von Weizsäcker, 2002. "Welfare Economics bei endogenen Präferenzen: Thünen-Vorlesung 2001," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 3(4), pages 425-446, November.
  2. Bykvist, Krister, 2010. "Can Unstable Preferences Provide A Stable Standard Of Well-Being?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(01), pages 1-26, March.
  3. Crusius, Jan & van Horen, Femke & Mussweiler, Thomas, 2012. "Why process matters: A social cognition perspective on economic behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 677-685.
  4. On Amir & Dan Ariely & Alan Cooke & David Dunning & Nicholas Epley & Uri Gneezy & Botond Koszegi & Donald Lichtenstein & Nina Mazar & Sendhil Mullainathan & Drazen Prelec & Eldar Shafir & Jose Silva, 2005. "Psychology, Behavioral Economics, and Public Policy," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 443-454, December.
  5. Sabine Frerichs, 2011. "False Promises? A Sociological Critique of the Behavioural Turn in Law and Economics," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 289-314, September.
  6. Paul Rozin & Sydney Scott & Megan Dingley & Joanna K. Urbanek & Hong Jiang & Mark Kaltenbach, 2011. "Nudge to nobesity I: Minor changes in accessibility decrease food intake," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(4), pages 323-332, June.
  7. Vernon L. Smith, 1965. "Experimental Auction Markets and the Walrasian Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 387-387.
  8. 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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