HT23 Week 2 Uehiro Seminar: Dr Polaris Koi

Nudges alter decision sets

Title: Nudges alter decision sets

Abstract: Nudges and other behavioural policy instruments are attractive because, according to the received view, they direct agents to make better choices without altering the set of options agents choose from. This is false. One of the mechanisms underlying successful nudges simply is that nudges in fact alter agents’ decision sets. Some nudges influence overt decision sets; however, the more pervasive effect nudges have on decision-making is their effect on agents' subjective decision sets. In rich environments, agents generate their subjective decision sets based on a range of attentional heuristics. Nudges influence which overt options are included in the subjective decision set, thereby modulating the set of options among which the agent in fact chooses. A psychologically realistic account of nudging must concede that nudges alter the set of options agents choose from. This requires that central arguments in favour of nudges be revised.

Speaker: Dr Polaris Koi is a philosopher working at the intersection of ethics, philosophy of action, and the philosophy of behavioral and brain sciences. Their main interest is in self-control, agency, and responsibility; further interests include foundational issues in the biological mind sciences, philosophy of disability and psychopathology, and the application of emerging technologies in healthcare. Since February 2021, Polaris has worked as Senior Researcher in the multidisciplinary Academy of Finland Nudging for Climate research project, where their attention is on the conceptual and ethical aspects of nudge theory and the development of nudge interventions.

Booking: not required (Zoom link available on request). 

In-person Venue: Oxford Uehiro Centre, Suite 1 Seminar Area, Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbe’s Street, Oxford OX1 1PT (buzzer 1)

Zoom option available: email for links