Nudge transparency is not required for nudge resistibility
DOUGLAS T., DE MARCO G.
In discussions of nudging, transparency is often taken to be important; it is often suggested that a significant moral consideration to take into account when nudging is whether the nudge is transparent. Another consideration taken to be relevant is whether the nudge is easy to resist. Sometimes, these two considerations are taken to be importantly related: if we have reason to make nudges easy to resist, then we have reason to make them transparent, insofar as a nudge’s transparency is relevant to whether the nudge is easy to resist. In this paper, we critically scrutinize this view. First, we draw out the purported connections between transparency and resistibility, combining them into what we call the Resistibility-to-Transparency Argument (RTA). Then, we do some conceptual groundwork elaborating on different forms of transparency mentioned in the debate. With this in place, we argue that in order to be plausible, the RTA must appeal to certain forms of transparency; those on which the transparency of a nudge depends on the nudgee’s ability to become aware of the relevant facts about the nudge. We then argue against the common assumption that in order for a nudge to be easy to resist for an individual, that individual needs to have the capacity to easily become aware of the relevant nudge facts. We conclude that the connection between the easy resistibility of a nudge and its transparency is, at best, a weak one.