Nudge, nudge

Only one of these books was given a title with the word "nudge" in it by people with a frame of reference similar to mine.

  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Thaler & Sunstein 2008.
  • Monty Python and Philosophy: Nudge Nudge, Think Think! Gary L. Hardcastle et al. 2006.
  • Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who's Already There. Leonard Sweet 2010.
  • A Gentle Nudge in the Right Direction. Joss Conlon 2012.
  • Why Nudge? The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism. Cass R. Sunstein 2014.
  • Delivering the Neural Nudge. Roger Parry 2014.

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"Why Nudge? The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism" requires an explanation for non-Mericans that is as close to satire as dry politics can get.
American libertarianism hates regulation ("If I want to refuse serving darkies in my establishment, the gubment has no business to interfere") and want private ownership of everything (leading to private prisons and mercenary outfits now doing stuff normally associated with the government).

Since the consequences tend to be "interesting" (the way the fertiliser plant -built in the center of a Texas town, because zoning regulations are communism -blew up in an interesting way) the author politely argues that socie ty has the right to nudge the behavior of individuals in the right direction, when the consequences are harmful to others.
So if you feel like celebrating New year's eve by shouting "Yee-haw" and shooting your gun in the air the bullets might have consequences for others when they come falling down. And in that case the government maybe has the right to nudge your behaviour towards a less bullet-spraying direction.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 28 Feb 2014 #permalink

Say no more!

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 28 Feb 2014 #permalink

"Nudge" is a euphemism for manipulation and domination of others, the coin of the realm for sociopaths.

Juxtaposing it with libertarianism is a red herring. One doesn't have to be a libertarian to find manipulative behavior obnoxious and morally illegitimate. At root, manipulators, like con artists, seek to impose their will upon others by means that are slippery enough to have plausible deniability. Manipulators are cowards who lack the spine for open public debate. And manipulators have an inherent belief that they are superior to those they seek to manipulate.

Any legitimate law or regulation can stand up to public debate. At some point one has to operate on the basis that the general public, in aggregate, are smart enough to make reasonable decisions. If not, then the solution is to improve the educational system, with particular emphasis on scientific method and reasoning skills, not to foster an ignorant public and then manipulate them.