Monday, 13 January 2014

Choosing Not to Choose

On Lawrence Solum's Legal Theory blog, I came across a recent article on consumer behaviour by 'nudge expert' Cass Sunstein: 'Choosing Not to Choose'

The abstract reads:

'In many contexts, people choose not to choose, or would do so if they were asked. For example, some people prefer not to make choices about their health or retirement plans; they want to delegate those choices to a private or public institution that they trust. This point suggests that the line between active choosing and paternalism is often illusory. When private or public institutions override people’s desire not to choose, and insist on active choosing, they may well be behaving paternalistically. Active choosing can be seen as a form of libertarian paternalism if people are permitted to opt out of choosing in favor of a default (and in that sense not to choose); it is a form of nonlibertarian paternalism insofar as people are required to choose. For both ordinary people and private or public institutions, the ultimate judgment in favor of choosing, or in favor of choosing not to choose, depends largely on the costs of decisions and the costs of errors. But the value of learning, and of developing one’s own preferences and values, is also important, and may argue on behalf of active choosing, and against the choice not to choose.'

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