Withdrawing Versus Withholding Freedoms: Nudging and the Case of Tobacco Control

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Abstract

Is it a stronger interference with people's freedom to withdraw options they currently have than to withhold similar options they do not have? Drawing on recent theorizing about sociopolitical freedom, this article identifies considerations that often make this the case for public policy. However, when applied to tobacco control, these considerations are shown to give us at best only very weak freedom-based reason to prioritize the status quo. This supports a popular argument for so-called “endgame” tobacco control measures: If we believe that cigarettes would and should be withheld from entering markets in hypothetical scenarios in which they do not yet exist, then we also have reason to seek their abolition in situations, such as ours, in which cigarettes do exist—if necessary by banning their sale. The same considerations are then used to disarm objections that have recently been raised to using nudges in public policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3–14
Number of pages12
JournalThe American Journal of Bioethics
Volume16
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2-Jul-2016
Externally publishedYes

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