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Virtual Seminar – When do nudges undermine voluntary consent? – RECORDING

This is a recording of the online seminar that took place on 12th May 2022 featuring Maximilian Kiener

By philg · May 12, 2022

Following publication of his article When do nudges undermine voluntary consent? *, Maximilian Kiener, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Oxford discussed the article in more detail and answered questions.

Article abstract:

The permissibility of nudging in public policy is often assessed in terms of the conditions of transparency, rationality, and easy resistibility. This debate has produced important resources for any ethical inquiry into nudging, but it has also failed to focus sufficiently on a different yet very important question, namely: when do nudges undermine a patient’s voluntary consent to a medical procedure? In this paper, I take on this further question and, more precisely, I ask to which extent the three conditions of transparency, rationality, and easy resistibility can be applied to the assessment of voluntary consent too. After presenting two examples, designed to put pressure on these three conditions, I show that, suitably modified, the three conditions can remain significant in the assessment of voluntary consent as well. However, the needed modifications are very substantial and result in a rather complicated view. To propose a tidier solution, I argue that nudging undermines voluntary consent if and only if it cannot be ‘interpersonally justified’ to the patient. I use the three modified conditions to motivate the idea of interpersonal justification and also to further specify the principles it involves. My resulting view is especially attractive because it builds on already existing insights from the debate on nudging, updates those insights with an eye to medical consent, and finally unites them in an elegant and simple framework.

*The article can be accessed here

Speaker Biography:

Maximilian is a philosopher at the University of Oxford and specialises in moral and legal philosophy. His research, which is supported by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, focuses on consent, responsibility, and artificial intelligence. He is currently writing a monograph on responsibility and artificial intelligence, under contract with Hart.

Maximilian is also an Associate Editor of The Journal of Practical Ethics and an Associate Research Fellow of The Institute for Ethics in AI at Oxford, the ERC-project Roots of Responsibility, ​based at UCL, and the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

In addition to his philosophical research, he is committed to public engagement and policy-making. He is a member of a working group at the European Commission that focuses on meaningful and ethical communication, a member of the clinical research ethics committee Oxford C South Central, and regularly writes articles for wider audiences, e.g. in The Conversation on whether it’s okay to manipulate people into getting vaccinated (