Ethical Limitations on the State's Use of Arational Persuasion

45 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2013 Last revised: 10 Jun 2016

See all articles by Nadia N. Sawicki

Nadia N. Sawicki

Loyola-Chicago School of Law, Beazley Institute for Health Law & Policy

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 27, 2013

Abstract

Policymakers frequently use arational appeals – such as those relying on emotion, cognitive biases, and subliminal messaging – to persuade citizens to adopt behaviors that support public goals. However, these communication tactics have been widely criticized for relying on arational triggers, rather than reasoned argument. This Article develops a fuller account of the non-consequentialist objections to arational persuasion by state actors, as well as the arguments in favor of such tactics, that have been presented by scholars of rhetoric, political theory, and cognitive science. The Article concludes by proposing ethically justifiable limitations on state communications that should be compelling to both critics and advocates of arational persuasion.

Keywords: state communications, arational appeals, persuasion, rhetoric, health campaigns

JEL Classification: K32, K40

Suggested Citation

Sawicki, Nadia N., Ethical Limitations on the State's Use of Arational Persuasion (June 27, 2013). 38 Law & Policy (2016 Forthcoming); Loyola University Chicago School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2286396 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2286396

Nadia N. Sawicki (Contact Author)

Loyola-Chicago School of Law, Beazley Institute for Health Law & Policy ( email )

25 E. Pearson
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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