Nudge me, help my baby: on other-regarding nudges

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Abstract

There is an increasing interest in the possibility of using nudges to promote people's health. Following the advances in developmental biology and epigenetics, it is clear that one's health is not always the result of one's own choices. In the period surrounding pregnancy, maternal choice behaviour has a significant influence on perinatal morbidity and mortality as well as the development of chronic diseases later in life. One's health is thus a matter of one's own as well as one's maternal choices. Therefore, self-regarding and other-regarding nudges should be considered as viable strategies to promote health. In this article, we introduce the concept of other-regarding nudges. We use the harm principle and the principle of beneficence to justify these other-regarding nudges. We conclude by stressing the importance of a fair assessment of expectations towards the nudgee, when determining whether a nudge is aimed at preventing harm or promoting a good.

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