Richard Thaler on Nudging - Dictionary of Arguments
Morozov I 198
Nudging/Behavior/Regulation/Thaler/Morozov: What Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler call "Nudges" are clever manipulations of standard settings - what the authors call "Choice Architecture" - to make you eat healthy food or save money for retirement. (1)
For manipulation, nudging is what public relations work is for advertising: it makes things run smoothly while making all the background, implicit and invisible, disappear. The most effective nudges give the actors the appearance of independence without offering them a wide choice.
Roger BrownswordVsSunstein/BrownswordVsThaler/Morozov: this kind of regulation appeals to our self-interest, but in a democratic society such attitudes should be discussed publicly. For example, it is not unproblematic to assume that the right reason to drive an energy-efficient car is to save money. It could also be that you want to protect the climate. (2)
Morozov I 199
MorozovVsSunstein/MorozovVsThaler/Morozov: Transforming something into a nudge by a mere technocratic commandment requires a social consensus - on both, goals and means - where this consensus may not yet exist. While the nudges are multiplying, divergent views on what needs to be done (and how) could actually vanish, but this should not be understood as an indication that the nudge in question has worked. Its presumed effectiveness is more likely to be the result of a forced consensus than the result of real consultation.
Morozov: in addition, the only thing that counts as nudge is what actually has the result that the regulator wanted.
Brownsword: this makes it more difficult to challenge and change laws and standards if they are woven into (nudging) technology. (2)
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Mause I 178f
Nudging/Thaler: A nudge must be avoidable - easily and without much effort. It is just a push, not an order. For example: Draping the fruit at eye level in the canteen counts as nudge. Taking junkfood from the offer however not. (3)
For example, banning or taxing smoking because it is harmful to health would be a very traditional compulsion, but putting warnings ("smoking kills") or banning tobacco to the farthest corner of the shop would be a nudge.
Costs/SchnellenbachVsNudging: the counter-financing of the costs of nudging would hardly be possible other than through the traditional forcing instrument of taxation of completely uninvolved third parties.
1. Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, updated ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 2009).
2. Roger Brownsword, “Whither the Law and the Law Books? From Prescription to Possibility,” Journal of Law and Society 39, no. 2 (2012): 296– 308; Brownsword, “Lost in Translation: Legality, Regulatory Margins, and Technological Management,” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 26 (2011): 1321– 1366; and Brownsword, Rights, Regulation and the Technological Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
3. Thaler, Richard H., und Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge: Wie man kluge Entscheidungen anstößt. Berlin 2009, S. 15._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
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