The Ethics of Nudge: for a Responsible Use of Behavioral Insights in Public Policy

Chammat Mariam
Giraud Stephan
Language of the article : French
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2019.1894
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The effectiveness of public policies largely depends on their ability to encourage behaviors that promote collective interest. Insights from behavioral sciences are therefore increasingly recognized by policy makers around the world as valuable for building a more efficient and legitimate public action. While the use of behavioral insights (BIs) provides a new range of policy tools, it also transforms and questions the scope of governmental interventions. Indeed, interfering more directly with the psychology of individuals and their decision making mechanisms raises a wide range of questions and concerns, going from accusations of excessive paternalism to suspicions of manipulative practices. The application of behavioral insights to public policies, promising as it may be, calls for ethical considerations. The following article discusses the main ethical critiques levelled against BIs, with a focus on an ambivalent concept, that of “nudge”. It also sketches out an operational framework for the responsible use of the behavioral insights by public authorities. This framework focuses on transparency and preservation of the autonomy of citizens, but also presents ways of promoting more robust public policies that integrate knowledge from behavioral sciences and more generally from the scientific method.

Pour citer cet article :

Chammat Mariam, Giraud Stephan (2019/1). The Ethics of Nudge: for a Responsible Use of Behavioral Insights in Public Policy. In Khamassi Mehdi, Chatila Raja & Mille Alain (Eds), Ethics and Cognitive Sciences, Intellectica, 70, (pp.83-96), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2019.1894.