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Shifting the concept of nudge
  1. Brynn F Welch
  1. Correspondence to Dr Brynn F Welch, PO Box 947, Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA 24327, USA; bwelch{at}

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Although Saghai primarily focuses on distinguishing nudges from other forms of influence, ‘Salvaging the Concept of Nudge’ offers a definition of nudges that could blunt much of the moral criticism of nudging and clarify debates about specific policies.1 The definition he offers, however, restricts the class of nudges to include only those influences that counter an individual's preferences; thus, contrary to what Thaler and Sunstein say, nudges cannot be instances of libertarian paternalism.1 ,2

According to Saghai, ‘A nudges B when A makes it more likely that B will ϕ, primarily by triggering B's shallow cognitive processes, while A's influence preserves B's choice-set and is substantially non-controlling (i.e., preserves B's freedom of choice)’. Because the second condition—the substantial non-control condition—is supposed to ensure that nudges preserve freedom in a robust sense, this condition warrants careful attention.

According to Saghai, A's influence is substantially non-controlling ‘when B could easily not ϕ if she did not want to ϕ’. To determine whether a particular influence constitutes a nudge, we must ask whether from B's perspective that influence is easily resistible. …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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