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Libertarian paternalism

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Healthy eating: The mind games of supermarkets. You’re often manipulated to buy at the supermarket. Now hidden design tricks can sway you to pick healthier food without realising, says Veronique Greenwood. Every time you enter the supermarket, you're being manipulated. By design, all of the basics you're just dropping by to pick up lie on the far side of a sea of temptation: the eggs, milk, and bread are blocked by fruit snacks, those fancy new crisps, and a display of artisanal cheese. If that wasn’t enough, your kids are targets too: all the cereal at the eye level of a child sitting in a shopping cart is pasted with cartoon blandishments, the better to lure them in with.

But could we be manipulated for the better? Even within our current stores, it isn't difficult to nudge people in a better direction, at least in the short term. Other tricks have been proposed by Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behaviour at Cornell who's well known for his research into the psychology of eating. Milk on the left. Why Smart Phones Should Help Us Avoid Selfie Sabotage. Will the New Autocorrect Steal Your Soul? - Photo Autocorrect may fix some of your mistakes, and make some amusing ones of its own. But will its successor correct more than your spelling, essentially hijacking your personality?

The philosopher Evan Selinger raises this concern in an interview with David Berreby of BigThink. Their jumping-off point is the predictive text feature in Apple’s upcoming iOS 8, which promises more sophisticated suggestions than the old autocorrect. From Apple’s website: “As you type, you’ll see choices of words or phrases you’d probably type next, based on your past conversations and writing style. iOS 8 takes into account the casual style you might use in Messages and the more formal language you probably use in Mail. It also adjusts based on the person you’re communicating with, because your choice of words is likely more laid back with your spouse than with your boss.” Mr. He fears that “we’re starting to find more and more cases where what we want to communicate to people will be automated.” Why Predictive Shopping Might Be Bad For The Future. Shopping Made Psychic. AS almost everyone knows, we have entered a period in which companies can predict people’s purchases, often with uncanny accuracy.

In the near future, they might even use those predictions to enroll you in special programs in which you receive goods and services, and are asked to pay for them, before you have actually chosen them. Call it predictive shopping. Some companies already encourage people to sign up for recurring purchases and deliveries — in a way, an extension of automatic bill payment. An early model is the Book-of-the-Month Club, which dates from 1926.

But the prospect might also seem alarming. What do Americans actually think about predictive shopping? I discovered, to my surprise, that a significant percentage of Americans already welcome predictive shopping. The situation was presented like this: Suppose that over the years, your favorite online bookseller has compiled a great deal of information about your preferences. Books are, of course, an unusual commodity. When is a nudge enough? Yesterday I was asked to comment on some comments on nudge, smoking and the Big Gulp Ban made by philosopher Sarah Conly as part of an interview pertaining to her new book Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism as well as her recent NY Times Op Ed titled Three Cheers for the Nanny State. The book itself I couldn’t comment on, since I have yet to read it, but I thought some of my comments on “when a nudge is enough”, which will appear in the Danish newspaper Politiken on Sunday, would be of general interest.

Is behavioural science an argument for paternalism? In ‘Three Cheers for the Nanny State’ Conly argues that behavioural insights gained in the fields of behavioural economics and cognitive psychology, explicitly the work of Daniel Kahneman, call for hard or ‘coercive paternalism’. Obviously this differs somewhat from the well-known conclusion of Thaler and Sunstein who find the same insights to call for Libertarian Paternalism. So why this difference? Mill's bridge example 1.