Legislation and Nudging. Towards a Suitable Definition

  • Silvia ZorzettoEmail author
  • Francesco FerraroEmail author
Part of the Legisprudence Library book series (LEGIS, volume 5)


“Nudging” is commonly seen as an appealing form of “smart legislation” based on the findings of behavioural sciences and alternative to traditional forms of regulation. However, notwithstanding the ever increasing references and a growing body of literature on its acceptability, a proper definition of the concept seems still lacking, since all the (scarce) attempts to date have only provided over- or under-inclusive definitions. This chapter purports to offer a more plausible definition. Firstly, the received view and especially Thaler’s and Sunstein’s descriptions of nudging will be examined and subjected to a first critical assessment. Secondly, a few examples will be made of policies enacted all around the world which are usually referred to as cases of nudging. Thirdly, some of the elements which have often been associated to nudging as its definitional features will be tested against the set of examples: such test will show that most of those elements must be done away with. Lastly, a “minimal” definition will be offered. While allowing us to distinguish nudging from other forms of conduct-influencing interventions, the minimal definition will exclude many features as its necessary conditions: among others, those related to specific ends and political ideologies.


Nudge Smart legislation Choice architecture Behavioural sciences Liberal paternalism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Giuridiche “Cesare Beccaria”, Universitá degli studi di MilanoMilanoItaly

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