Government Paternalism: Nanny State or Helpful Friend by Julian Le Grand and Bill New has landed on my desk and it looks a very interesting assessment of the trade-off between good ‘outcomes’ from nudge policies and the infantilization of individual choice – a useful counterbalance to the series of books from Cass Sunstein advocating nudging. (Gilles St Paul has a counter-nudge book too, The Tyranny of Utility: Behavioural Science and the Rise of Paternalism.)
Although recognising the power of the argument that governments (and others) can’t avoid ‘nudging’ because the status quo is a choice architecture anyway, I lean towards being very uneasy about the enthusiasm for policymakers using behavioural techniques (familiar to ad men and Mad Men) to manipulate behaviour. So I’m looking forward to this new book.
Government Paternalism: Nanny State or Helpful Friend?