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Salvaging the concept of nudge
  1. Yashar Saghai
  1. Correspondence to Yashar Saghai, MA, PhD, Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University, 1809 Ashland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA; ysaghai{at}jhu.edu

Abstract

In recent years, ‘nudge’ theory has gained increasing attention for the design of population-wide health interventions. The concept of nudge puts a label on efficacious influences that preserve freedom of choice without engaging the influencees’ deliberative capacities. Given disagreements over what it takes genuinely to preserve freedom of choice, the question is whether health influences relying on automatic cognitive processes may preserve freedom of choice in a sufficiently robust sense to be serviceable for the moral evaluation of actions and policies. In this article, I offer an argument to this effect, explicating preservation of freedom of choice in terms of choice-set preservation and noncontrol. I also briefly explore the healthcare contexts in which nudges may have priority over more controlling influences.

  • Autonomy
  • Behaviour Modification
  • Health Promotion
  • Public Health Ethics

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