“Ethical Considerations of Soft Paternalistic Policies”
I am looking at the question of the ethical and philosophical implications of soft or libertarian paternalistic measures in the United States, colloquially referred to as nudges. The goal of this project is to develop a theoretical framework for evaluating the implication of such laws, in terms of whether they are justified uses of governmental authority or unsupportable intrusions into citizens’ privacy and autonomy. The debate around nudges can also inform existing conversations about what constitutes freedom, governmental authority, and societal responsibility in America. I hope to address the following questions: what are the ethical implications of nudge policies, and how do they impact the permissible ways in which a government can alter choice architecture? What are the implications of soft paternalistic legislation for how we conceive of personal freedom, the relationship between governed and governing, and societal responsibility? And how do these ideas affect how the government ought to conceive of and enacts further nudge-like policies?