Author(s): Gelfand SD
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Abstract Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, in Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, assert that rejecting the use nudges is 'pointless' because '[i]n many cases, some kind of nudge is inevitable'. Schlomo Cohen makes a similar claim. He asserts that in certain situations surgeons cannot avoid nudging patients either toward or away from consenting to surgical interventions. Cohen concludes that in these situations (assuming surgeons believe that surgery is the best option for their patients), nudging patients toward consenting to surgical interventions is (at the very least) uncriticizable or morally permissible. I call this argument: The Unavoidability Argument. In this essay, I will respond to Cohen's use of the unavoidability argument in support of using nudges during the process of informed consent. Specifically, I argue that many so-called 'unavoidable nudges' are, in fact, avoidable. Although my argument is directed toward Cohen's use of the unavoidability argument, it is applicable to the unavoidability argument more generally. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This article was published in Bioethics
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy