Libertarian Nudges

15 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2017 Last revised: 12 Mar 2018

See all articles by Gregory Mitchell

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2017

Abstract

We can properly call a number of nudges libertarian nudges, but the territory of libertarian nudging is smaller than is often realized. The domain of libertarian nudges is populated by choice-independent nudges, or nudges that only assist the decision process and do not push choosers toward any particular choice. Some choice-dependent nudges pose no great concern from a libertarian perspective for rational choosers so long as there is a low-cost way to avoid the nudger’s favored choice. However, choice-dependent nudges will interfere with the autonomy of irrational choosers, because the opt-out option will be meaningless for this group. Choice-independent nudges should be of no concern with respect to irrational actors and in fact should be welcomed because they can promote the decision competence fundamental to libertarianism, but choice-dependent nudges can never truly be libertarian nudges.

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Gregory, Libertarian Nudges (November 1, 2017). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-65, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3070312

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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434-243-4088 (Phone)

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