The ethics of self-aware behavioural public policies: any different to standard nudges?

Peter John*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Nudges - light-touch interventions aimed to help people achieve socially desirable outcomes - can take place without individuals being aware of them. It would seem to be ethically superior to tell individuals that they are being nudged, encouraging them to be aware of the reasons for the official interest in their behaviours. Aided by internal reflection, individuals may make informed choices whether to go along with officially-preferred options or not. In general, this paper adopts this line of argument, justifying self-awareness from the liberal belief in autonomy of the person. However, awareness and/or reflection are not always necessarily ethically superior to passivity, as in cases where manipulation is also present with information provision, when there is framing of deliberative exercises, and where there is harm done to others due to reflectively-driven actions. Most of the time self-awareness is to be preferred, but not always.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)898-905
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Public Policy
Volume7
Issue number4
Early online date6 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • ethics
  • nudge
  • reflection
  • transparency

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