"Be Happy: Navigating Normative Issues in Behavioural and Well-Being Public Policy"
08:00 AM Pacific Time/
11:00 AM Eastern Time
Psychological science is increasingly influencing public policy. Behavioural public policy (BPP) was a milestone in this regard because it influenced many areas of policy in a general way. Well-being public policy (WPP) is emerging as a second domain of psychological science with general applicability. However, advocacy for WPP is criticised on ethical and political grounds. These criticisms are reminiscent of those directed at BPP over the past decade. This déjà vu suggests the need for interdisciplinary work that establishes normative principles for applying psychological science in public policy. We try to distil such principles for WPP from the normative debates over BPP. We argue that the uptake of BPP by governments was a function of its relatively strong normative and epistemic foundations in libertarian paternalism, or “nudging”, for short. We explain why the nudge framework is inappropriate for WPP. We then analyse how “boosts” offers a strict but feasible alternative framework for substantiating the legitimacy of well-being (and behavioural) policies. We illuminate how some WPPs could be fruitfully promoted as boosts and how they might fall short of the associated criteria.
Presented by: Dr. Mark Fabian
Mark Fabian is a Research Associate (Postdoc) at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge. He was previously a Fulbright Scholar at the Brookings Institution and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Australian National University. He studies well-being from an interdisciplinary perspective, with a particular focus on well-being and public policy.
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