Nudges and Coercion: Conceptual, Empirical, and Normative Considerations

Monash Bioethics Review 33 (2-3):210-218 (2015)
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Given that the concept of coercion remains a central concern for bioethics, Quigley's (Monash Bioethics Rev 32:141–158, 2014) recent article provides a helpful analysis of its frequent misapplication in debates over the use of ‘nudges’. In this commentary I present a generally sympathetic response to Quigley’s argument while also raising several issues that are important for the larger debates about nudges and coercion. I focus on several closely related topics, including the definition of coercion, the role of empirical research, and the normative concerns at the core of these disputes. I suggest that while a degree of precision is certainly required when deploying the relevant concepts, perhaps informed by empirical data, we need to continue to push these debates towards more pressing normative considerations.



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Kelso Cratsley
American University

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