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Nudges in a post-truth world
  1. Neil Levy1,2
  1. 1 Department of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Neil Levy, Department of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia; neil.levy{at}philosophy.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

Nudges—policy proposals informed by work in behavioural economics and psychology that are designed to lead to better decision-making or better behaviour—are controversial. Critics allege that they bypass our deliberative capacities, thereby undermining autonomy and responsible agency. In this paper, I identify a kind of nudge I call a nudge to reason, which make us more responsive to genuine evidence. I argue that at least some nudges to reason do not bypass our deliberative capacities. Instead, use of these nudges should be seen as appeals to mechanisms partially constitutive of these capacities, and therefore as benign (so far as autonomy and responsible agency are concerned). I sketch some concrete proposals for nudges to reason which are especially important given the apparent widespread resistance to evidence seen in recent political events.

  • Autonomy
  • Behaviour Modification

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Footnotes

  • Funding Wellcome Trust (grant no. WT104848/Z/14/Z).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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