Andreas T. Schmidt:
"Should the Government Manipulate People for their Own Good? - Nudging, Rationality, and Behavioural Science"
Nudging has recently been popular with governments around the world. Such policies try to effect widespread behaviour change not by limiting people’s freedom of choice but by changing seemingly irrelevant aspects in people’s choice environment. For example, making organ donation the default option can significantly increase how many organ donors a country will have. Critics, however, object that nudging is manipulative, because it treats people as irrational. Instead of appealing to people’s rational decision-making capacities, nudging seems to exploit their cognitive biases. Drawing on discussions in psychology and philosophy, I argue against this objection: if done right, nudging supports rather than undermines rational agency.
Andreas T. Schmidt is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Groningen, Netherlands. He previously worked at Princeton University and holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford. His research is in political theory, ethics and the philosophy of public policy. His research topics include sociopolitical freedom, distributive justice, public health policy, nudging, animal ethics, and consequentialism.