The Political Morality of Nudges in Healthcare


Jonathan Gingerich, “The Political Morality of Nudges in Healthcare,” in Nudging Health: Health Law and Behavioral Economics, edited by I. Glenn Cohen, Holly Fernandez Lynch, and Christopher T. Robinson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), 97-106.

ABSTRACT: A common critique of “nudges”—policy interventions that are designed to make it more likely that people will make choices in their own interest or in the public interest that stop short of coercing compliance—is that they reduce someone’s choices or elicit behavior through means other than rational persuasion. In this paper, I argue against this form of critique. Nudges can be morally troubling when they prevent people from directly engaging with the reasons and values that bear on decisions that it is morally important that they make for themselves. This concern is particularly salient as to choices where it is important for people to directly engage with values that bear on the choices, and many healthcare decisions are exactly these kinds of choices. [preprint] [published version]