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Nudging, Behavioral Economics, Public Policy, Ethics of Nudging


Behavioral Economics | Economic Policy | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility | Multicultural Psychology | Public Policy | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Psychology


This thesis examines nudging, a technique aimed at making individuals act, choose, and behave in the ways deemed rational by policy makers. Nudging has only recently been adopted for public policy strategies. The ultimate goal of this thesis is to determine the ethical implications of nudging in public policy, by specifically exploring its origins in behavioral economics, and its methods, areas of influence, and moral consequences. The thesis consists of three chapters. The first chapter contextualizes nudging within the study of behavioral economics, and reconstructs in a chronological and logical sequence the most important scholarly and popular literature on the subject. The second chapter delves into the practical aspects of nudging: it consists of a number of examples that distinguish among private, public, and semi-public nudges, and clarifies where nudges appear, what agencies are typically responsible for implementing them, and what elements of a nudge tends to increase or decrease its effectiveness. Finally, the last chapter explores the ethical boundaries of nudging by distinguishing between nudges that manipulate and those that persuade the receiver. The thesis concludes that nudges that use manipulative techniques to alter behavior are unethical, because they deprive the individual of the right to choose on his or her own, and thus to learn from one’s own choices.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License