Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (8):545-546 (2018)

Shlomo Cohen
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Zealous nudging can deteriorate into paternalistic bullshitting. To the extent that William Simkulet’s paper is a reminder against that danger, it does us good service.1 Simkulet, however, makes the far bolder claims that nudging just is bullshitting and that—since bullshitting deviates from truthfulness, and truthful disclosure is essential for valid consent—nudging invalidates informed consent. These bolder claims involve a set of errors. The problem starts with Simkulet’s formal definition of ‘bullshit’, which says that conveying x while intending one’s audience to believe y is sufficient for bullshit. This, however, is not true since the bullshitter’s not caring whether x is true is constitutive of bullshitting, and hence a necessary condition. Why, we then ask, must such lack of care be the case with the doctor who nudges? It is at least prima facie easy and intuitive to think of scenarios in which the ethical doctor is staunchly committed to telling the truth while simultaneously acting on additional motives regarding the expected effects of what is said. If the doctor cares about saying only truths, he is not a bullshitter. Having communicative motivations that transcend the trivial motive of transmitting the truth of the literal content of what is said is normal and indeed normative in conversations of regular people.2 …
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1136/medethics-2017-104654
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,163
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Nudging, Informed Consent and Bullshit.William Simkulet - 2018 - Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (8):536-542.
The Gettier Problem in Informed Consent.S. Cohen - 2011 - Journal of Medical Ethics 37 (11):642-645.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

At Odds with the Truth.William Simkulet - 2018 - Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (8):548-550.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Nudging and Informed Consent.Shlomo Cohen - 2013 - American Journal of Bioethics 13 (6):3-11.
Nudging for Liberals.Andrés Moles - 2015 - Social Theory and Practice 41 (4):644-667.
Authenticity, Best Interest, and Clinical Nudging.Søren Holm - 2017 - Hastings Center Report 47 (2):38-40.
Expanding the Nudge: Designing Choice Contexts and Choice Contents.Kalle Grill - 2014 - Rationality, Markets and Morals 5:139-162.
On Nudging Health.Shlomo Cohen - 2018 - Hastings Center Report 48 (1):45-46.
The Power to Nudge.Andreas T. Schmidt - 2017 - American Political Science Review 111 (2):404-417.
“Truthful” Acting Emerges Through Forward Model Development.B. Porr - 2016 - Constructivist Foundations 11 (3):612-613.


Added to PP index

Total views
25 ( #455,788 of 2,507,013 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #417,155 of 2,507,013 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes