From deceptive advertising to misguided public policy to sheer boneheadedness, Americans have no shortage of forces pushing them to make unwise choices. How else to explain Ding-Dongs? Or ruining a perfectly good planet?
Legal scholar and avowed environmentalist Cass Sunstein, however, holds out hope that we, both individually and collectively, are not condemned to irrationality. In Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (released in paperback last month), Sunstein and co-author Richard Thaler explain how enlightened “choice architecture” can close the gap between hedonism and wisdom though “libertarian paternalism”: a kind of minimalist interventionism designed to remedy some of the America’s greatest collective action problems.
“Nudges” impose no mandates. Instead, with canny combinations of framing, informing, and cheerleading, they can inspire free decisions to eat more broccoli, enroll in retirement accounts, and perhaps even rip apart fewer mountaintops. Though he was a mild-mannered law professor at Harvard at the time this interview took place, Sunstein recently became director... Read more