Getting Real on Rationality: Behavioural Science, Nudging and Public Policy

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The nudge approach seeks to improve people’s decisions through small changes in their choice environments. Nudge policies often work through psychological mechanisms that deviate from traditional notions of rationality. Because of that, some critics object that nudging treats people as irrational. Such treatment might be disrespectful in itself and might crowd out more empowering policies. I defend nudging against these objections. By defending a nonstandard, ecological model of rationality, I argue that nudging not only is compatible with rational agency but can even support it. Accordingly, a concern with rationality speaks for more rather than less public policy nudging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-543
Number of pages35
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2019


  • health
  • paternalism
  • impliciet
  • ethics
  • norms
  • model

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