Choice Architecture in Democracies: Exploring the Legitimacy of Nudging - Preface
In: Alexandra Kemmerer/Christoph Möllers/Maximilian Steinbeis/Gerhard Wagner (eds.), Choice Architecture in Democracies. Exploring the Legitimacy of Nudging (Recht im Kontext 6), Nomos, Baden-Baden/Hart Publishing, Oxford 2016, 387 pp, hdbck, ISBN (Nomos): 978-3-8487-2288-4; ISBN (Hart): 978-1-5099-
Posted: 23 Jul 2016 Last revised: 4 Jan 2017
Date Written: July 15, 2016
Experts advise governments as to common traits in human behavior that need to be taken into account when designing rules for situations of decision-making by individuals – for instance in the fields of health, retirement provisions, or education. »Choice architects« shape situations of decision-making in such a way that the individual will take the »right« decision with a higher probability than in an alternative landscape. Based on insights from behavioral economics, tools have been developed in order to motivate the citizen towards more »reasonable« conduct. The European Commission has been rewarding the reasonable, self-determined individual for a long time, and in the German Federal Chancellery, too, the search for behavioral economic guidelines toward efficient and cost-saving policies is under way. The »how« of state interventions for the facilitation of a good life is being widely discussed. The »if«, however, seems to be the more pressing issue. Are citizens’ virtues the business of the state? May the state influence and »nudge« its citizens, or even paternalistically act as their benevolent guardian? Are there constitutional limits to »liberal paternalism«? What about freedom of the individual, dignity, autonomy, and self-determination in a democracy?
This volume brings together a collection of contributions that explore the promises and dark sides, the limits and possibilities of behaviorally informed regulatory strategies. All chapters in the first part of the book were, in substance, presented and discussed at the Verfassungsblog Conference »Choice Architecture in Democracies: Exploring the Legitimacy of Nudging« which we convened at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in January 2015 – with the exception of Morag Goodwin’s chapter that had been discussed in a preceding Recht im Kontext conference on Human Dignity held at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in July 2013 and is now also part of the edited volume »Human Dignity in Context« (Dieter Grimm / Alexandra Kemmerer / Christoph Möllers, eds., Recht im Kontext 5). Goodwin’s paper inspired our interest in a constitutionalist perspective on choice architecture and behaviorally informed regulation, and is reprinted here with thanks. Christopher McCrudden and Jeff King went even one step further and turned the gist of their two separate conference papers into a joint contribution, put up for discussion in the Berlin Seminar Recht im Kontext and at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. The blog posts republished in the second part of the book were first published as an Online Symposium on Verfassungsblog in April 2015, taking further the discussion we had during three vibrant conference days in Berlin.
With contributions by Anne van Aaken, Alberto Alemanno, Oren Bar-Gill, Sabino Cassese, Georgios Dimitropoulos, Morag Goodwin, Hans Michael Heinig, Sabine Junginger, Jeff King, Gebhard Kirchgässner, Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff, Christopher McCrudden, Robert Neumann, Gunnar Folke Schuppert, Cass Sunstein, Emanuel Towfigh, Christian Traxler, Christopher Unseld, Leonie Vierck, Uwe Volkmann, Johanna Wolff, and an introduction by the editors.
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