What is it that is meant by ‘libertarian paternalism’? Libertarian alone simply means little or no intervention or free will and paternalism as what we can guess from the root word paternal, means restricted or controlled. So the idea of libertarian paternalism seems to be incongruent and does not ‘equipping’ each other. Anyhow, libertarian paternalism here refers to the idea that a private and public institution can possibly affect the behaviour of an individual but also respects its freedom of choice. It is a very weak type of paternalism because it is open with choices. If we desire things that have a bad effect on our lives such as eating an excessive amount of candy or smoking cigarettes, libertarian paternalists will not force us to do otherwise. They won’t even bother us trying to enjoy our lives even if they think that the things we are doing is not right because they respect the fact that those are our life choices.
Libertarian paternalism has also been nicknamed a ‘nudge’. The reason behind this is that we are not directly forcing them to live a healthy life, but we are just merely trying to lead them in to one. A nudge is used for an attempt to try to alter or slightly change someone’s behaviour in a predictable way in which you as the ‘choice architects’ believe is the right way. But the freedom of choice is also there, which means that they will not necessarily follow what you have in mind for them. The nudge must be easy and not at all troublesome to avoid to be classified as a measly nudge. Teaching little children, the bad effects of smoking would be classified as one though banning smoking in general would not.
Using the story mentioned above, that nudge is proof of this idea of affecting someone’s behaviour indirectly. But you also had the freedom of choice of whether to talk to her or not which also supports the idea of libertarian paternalism by implementing freedom of choice. This ideology is being practiced by many organizations. For example, in some developed countries, shops are required to place sodas and cigarettes at the back of the store than near checkout stand. Another example is that citizens would be automatically opted into a specified investment plan to encourage them to save for retirement. Little nudges here and there are very good to build a healthy community.