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    Bounded rationality recognizes that human behavior departs from the perfect rationality assumed by neoclassical economics. In this book, Sanjit Dhami and Cass Sunstein explore the foundations of bounded rationality and consider the implications of this approach for public policy and law, in particular for questions about choice, welfare, and freedom. The authors, both recognized as experts in the field, cover a wide range of empirical findings and assess theoretical work that attempts to explain those findings. Their presentation is comprehensive, coherent, and lucid, with even the most technical material explained accessibly. They not only offer observations and commentary on the existing literature but also explore new insights, ideas, and connections. After examining the traditional neoclassical framework, which they refer to as the Bayesian rationality approach (BRA), and its empirical issues, Dhami and Sunstein offer a detailed account of bounded rationality and how it can be incorporated into the social and behavioral sciences. They also discuss a set of models of heuristics-based choice and the philosophical foundations of behavioral economics. Finally, they examine libertarian paternalism and its strategies of “nudges.”

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    The Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization embraces a form of due process traditionalism. More specifically, it is founded on Burkean arguments, emphasizing the importance of respect for traditions and (secondarily) Thayerian arguments, emphasizing the need to give the democratic process room to maneuver, at least in the domain of “substantive due process.” With Burkean and Thayerian arguments at work, the Court offers a distinctive understanding of the Due Process Clause, which allows substantive protection of rights only if they are vindicated by tradition and essential to “ordered liberty” as the United States has long understood it. Rooted in due process traditionalism, the Court’s opinion is not an “originalist” opinion, and it would not be simple to defend it in originalist terms. Within the opinion’s own logic, the major challenge is to accept due process traditionalism without simultaneously throwing a variety of emphatically nontraditional or anti-traditionalist substantive due process cases into doubt, even though they have nothing to do with abortion (including the right to engage in same-sex sexual relations and the right to same-sex marriage). There are uneasy relationships between the traditionalist thrust of the Court’s opinion and the Court’s nontraditional or antitraditionalist jurisprudence in other areas of constitutional law, including free speech, takings, and equal protection, where the Court has repudiated multiple traditions, understanding itself as a kind of “forum of principle,” in a way that produces far more expansive understandings of rights than could be justified by an inquiry into tradition and ordered liberty. For example, the Court has rejected free speech traditionalism (in protecting libel), takings clause traditionalism (in protecting against regulatory takings), and equal protection traditionalism (in protecting against sex discrimination). A central reason must be that the Court believes in some forms of moral progress, and has at least some faith in the judicial capacity to incorporate certain forms of moral progress into constitutional law. The central weakness of the Dobbs opinion – and plausibly, its fatal flaw – is its rejection of the idea that moral progress can and should play a role in the understanding of constitutional rights.

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    “Informational cascades” can be key in turning the tide against animal cruelty.

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    In moral and political philosophy, some people emphasize the importance of searching for “reflective equilibrium,” in which (broadly speaking) general principles align with convictions about particular cases, and vice-versa. There is a close analogue in constitutional law; the search for reflective equilibrium plays a central role. Some theories of constitutional interpretation seem to call for results that are inconsistent with “fixed points” in constitutional law (where “fixed points” are understood as particular holdings, such as Brown v. Board of Education, to which people have exceedingly strong commitments). The risk to fixed points strongly counts against such theories. The reason is that among the reasonable candidates, any theory of interpretation must be defended on the ground that it would make our constitutional order better rather than worse. It follows that if a theory would lead to rejection to fixed points, it has a clear strike against it. Many participants in debates about constitutional theory implicitly agree on this point, and they had better; there is no way to choose a theory of constitutional interpretation that refuses to seek reflective equilibrium, which means that consideration of fixed points is essential.

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    The question of whether federal agencies or the courts should have the right to interpret legislation may seem technical, but it significantly affects the power of the government.

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    There can be a serious tension between the commitment to cost-benefit analysis and a realistic appreciation of the limits of official knowledge. Without significant efforts to reduce those limits, that analysis might be inadequately informed. Whenever regulators face significant informational deficits, or what is sometimes called “the knowledge problem,” it is important to explore tools that take advantage of what the private sector knows; market-friendly approaches, such as economic incentives, have important advantages on that count. An advanced regulatory system should also try to reduce the knowledge problem through three routes: (1) creative use of notice-and-comment rulemaking; (2) retrospective analysis of regulations and their costs and benefits; and (3) advance testing, as a way of informing ex ante analysis. For the future, the most promising approach is (3).

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    The draft opinion of Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization embraces a form of due process traditionalism. More specifically, it is founded on Burkean arguments, emphasizing the importance of respect for traditions and (secondarily) Thayerian arguments, emphasizing the need to give the democratic process room to maneuver. With Burkean and Thayerian arguments at work, the Alito draft offers a distinctive understanding of the Due Process Clause, which allows substantive protection of rights only if they are vindicated by tradition and essential to “ordered liberty” as the United States has long understood it. Rooted in due process traditionalism, the Alito draft is not an “originalist” opinion, and it would not be simple to defend it in originalist terms. Within the opinion’s own logic, a major challenge is to accept due process traditionalism without simultaneously throwing a variety of emphatically nontraditionalist or anti-traditionalist substantive due process cases into doubt, even though they have nothing to do with abortion (including the right to engage in same-sex sexual relations and the right to same-sex marriage). There are uneasy relationships between the traditionalist thrust of the Court’s opinion and the Court’s nontraditionalist or antitraditionalist jurisprudence in other areas of constitutional law, including free speech, takings, and equal protection, where the Court has repudiated multiple traditions, understanding itself as a kind of “forum of principle,” in a way that produces far more expansive understandings of rights than could be justified by an inquiry into tradition and ordered liberty. For example, the Court has rejected free speech traditionalism (in protecting libel), takings clause traditionalism (in protecting against regulatory takings), and equal protection traditionalism (in protecting against sex discrimination). A central reason must be that the Court believes in some forms of moral progress, and has at least some faith in the judicial capacity to incorporate certain forms of moral progress into constitutional law.

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    When policymakers focus on costs and benefits, they often find that hard questions become easy – as, for example, when the benefits clearly exceed the costs, or when the costs clearly exceed the benefits. In some cases, however, benefits or costs are difficult to quantify, perhaps because of limitations in scientific knowledge. In extreme cases, policymakers are proceeding in circumstances of uncertainty rather than risk, in the sense that they cannot assign probabilities to various outcomes. We suggest that in difficult cases in which important information is absent, it is useful for policymakers to consider a concept from poker: “freerolls.” A freeroll exists when choosers can lose nothing from selecting an option but stand to gain something (whose magnitude may itself be unknown). In some cases, people display “freeroll neglect.” In terms of social justice, John Rawls’ defense of the difference principle is grounded in the idea that behind the veil of ignorance, choosers have a freeroll. In terms of regulatory policy, one of the most promising defenses of the Precautionary Principle sees it as a kind of freeroll. Some responses to climate change, pandemics, and financial crises can be seen as near-freerolls. Freerolls and near-freerolls must be distinguished from cases involving cumulatively high costs and also from faux freerolls, which can be found when the costs of an option are real and significant, but not visible. “Binds” are the mirror image of freerolls; they involve options from which people are guaranteed to lose something (of uncertain magnitude). Some regulatory options are binds, and there are faux binds as well.

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    In the United States, are administrative agencies illegitimate? A threat to democracy? A threat to liberty? A threat to human welfare? Many people think so, and in important ways, they are surely correct. But an understanding of the actual operation of the administrative state in the United States, seen from the inside, makes it exceedingly difficult to object to “rule by unelected bureaucrats” or “an unelected fourth branch of government.” Such an understanding casts a new light on some large and abstract objections from the standpoint of democracy, liberty, and welfare. Indeed, it makes those objections seem coarse and insufficiently uninformed. What is needed is less in the way of arguments from adjectives and nouns, and more conceptual and empirical work on welfare and distributive justice, and on how regulators can increase both.

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    The red tape we all must deal with is more than an inconvenience. It wastes time, money, and energy and ultimately robs us of our freedom.

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    In its ideal form, arbitrariness review is an instrument for promoting “deliberative democracy”—a system that combines reason-giving with political accountability. Under arbitrariness review in its current form, courts tend to embrace the “hard look doctrine,” which has a procedural component, requiring agencies to offer detailed justifications, and also a substantive component, in which courts assess the reasonableness of agencies’ choices on the merits. These are serious constraints on the executive branch, and they also reduce the risk of large-scale instability in government, in which scientific and economic judgments are overridden by political considerations. With respect to regulatory policy, it is not enough to say that “elections have consequences.”

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    As intuitive statisticians, human beings suffer from identifiable biases, cognitive and otherwise. Human beings can also be “noisy,” in the sense that their judgments show unwanted variability. As a result, public institutions, including those that consist of administrative prosecutors and adjudicators, can be biased, noisy, or both. Both bias and noise produce errors. Algorithms eliminate noise, and that is important; to the extent that they do so, they prevent unequal treatment and reduce errors. In addition, algorithms do not use mental short-cuts; they rely on statistical predictors, which means that they can counteract or even eliminate cognitive biases. At the same time, the use of algorithms, by administrative agencies, raises many legitimate questions and doubts. Among other things, they can encode or perpetuate discrimination, perhaps because their inputs are based on discrimination, perhaps because what they are asked to predict is infected by discrimination. But if the goal is to eliminate discrimination, properly constructed algorithms nonetheless have a great deal of promise for administrative agencies.

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    Evolutionary explanations for behavioral findings are often both fascinating and plausible. But even so, they do not establish that people are acting rationally, that they are not making mistakes, or that their decisions are promoting their welfare. For example, present bias, optimistic overconfidence, and use of the availability heuristic can produce terrible mistakes and serious welfare losses, and this is so even if they have evolutionary foundations. There might well be evolutionary explanations for certain kinds of in-group favoritism, and also for certain male attitudes and actions toward women, and also for human mistreatment of and cruelty toward nonhuman animals. But those explanations would not justify anything at all. It is not clear that in Darwinia (a nation in which departures from perfect rationality have an evolutionary explanation), policymakers should behave very differently from Durkheimian policymakers (a nation in which departures from perfect rationality have a cultural explanation).

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    The ninth edition of this classic casebook Administrative Law and Regulatory Policy: Problems, Text, and Cases is streamlined and updated while retaining the previous editions’ rigor, comprehensiveness, and contextual approach.

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    With respect to climate change, the principal focus of both research and public policy has been on mitigation – on reducing greenhouse gas emissions so as to reduce anticipated adverse effects. But it is increasingly clear that adaptation must also be a high priority. Climate-related risks – including flooding, extreme heat, wildfires, droughts, and hurricanes – are quite serious and are likely to grow over time. Creative and not-so-creative measures to nudge, incentivize, and mandate adaptation may well have benefits far in excess of costs – and may, in fact, deliver higher net benefits than some efforts at mitigation. Because significant climate change is now occurring, and will almost certainly create increasing risks over time, adaptation is essential. It must be carefully assessed with attention to (a) its aggregate effects on social welfare and (b) its distributional impacts. Cost-benefit analysis can much help with (a), but it can run into serious concerns, not only because of (b), but also because of epistemic gaps and because of its failure, in some cases, adequately to capture welfare effects.

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    Do foreign lives matter? When? How much? If one nation damages another, what are its obligations, as a matter of law and policy? These questions can be approached and understood in diverse ways, but they are concretized in debates over the “social cost of carbon,” which is sometimes described as the linchpin of national climate policy. The social cost of carbon, meant to capture the damage done by a ton of carbon emissions, helps to determine the stringency of regulations in many domains, including emissions limits on motor vehicles and on stationary sources. In determining the social cost of carbon, agencies must decide whether to use the global number (as chosen by Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden) or instead the domestic number (as chosen by President Donald Trump). Use of the global number should be seen as a form of climate change cosmopolitanism, whether the grounding is moral, strategic, or otherwise. Within the constraints of governing statutes, there are four central arguments in favor of using the global figure. (1) The epistemic argument: experts do not know a great deal about the purely domestic harms from climate change, which makes it impossible to generate a purely domestic number. (2) The interconnectedness argument: harms done to U.S. citizens by domestic emissions are not limited to those directly brought about by the incremental increase in temperatures within the territorial boundaries of the United States; they include an assortment of harms to U.S. citizens living abroad and harms to U.S. citizens and interests that come as a result of the cascading effects of harm done to foreigners (including governments, companies, and individuals), which are ultimately felt by U.S. citizens or within the United States. (3) The moral cosmopolitan argument: in deciding on the scope of its regulations, the United States has a moral obligation to take account of the harms it does to non-Americans. (4) The reciprocity argument: if all nations used a domestic figure, all nations would lose; a successful approach to the climate problem requires nations to treat greenhouse gas emissions as a global, and not merely domestic, externality. Neither the epistemic argument nor the incompleteness argument justifies the choice of the global number. The moral cosmopolitan and reciprocity arguments stand on much stronger grounds, though they both run into plausible objections.

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    Since 1970, the law of standing has been dominated by the "injury in fact" requirement. That requirement was first announced in an opinion by Justice William O. Douglas, who clearly sought both to expand the category of people entitled to challenge government action and to simplify the standing inquiry in significant ways. Justice Douglas made no effort to root that requirement in the text or history of the Constitution, or indeed in any of the Court's precedents. As far as constitutional law is concerned, the injury-in-fact test was made up out of whole cloth. It appears to have come from a 1955 law review article by Kenneth Culp Davis. Davis himself purported to interpret the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), not the Constitution. His interpretation of the APA was an egregious blunder. Over the course of the last half-century, the injury-in-fact test has been transformed from a bold effort to expand the category of persons entitled to bring suit into an equally bold effort to achieve the opposite goal, by understanding judicially cognizable injuries largely by reference to the common law (and the Constitution), and by severely restricting Congress' power to create new rights and to allow people to sue to protect those rights. The transformation is lawless. It is disconnected from standard sources of constitutional law. There is an irony here, and it is in the foreground, not in the background. The administrative state arose out of grave dissatisfaction with private law principles. In diverse ways, it was founded on a recognition that various interests beyond those protected by the common law (including those of consumers, investors, workers, environmentalists, and victims of discrimination) deserve some kind of legal protection. To be sure, the interests of the objects of regulation, armed with private-law rights, continued to matter, and would be a legitimate basis for a lawsuit. But in multiple domains, Congress explicitly decided that the beneficiaries of regulatory protection also ought to have access to court to protect their statutory rights. And even when Congress did not make that explicit decision, the relevant provision of the APA could easily be read to authorize such access, at least in certain circumstances. The irony is that the Court is now building the public law of standing directly on the private-law foundations that Congress rejected, as a matter of principle, in creating modern statutory programs and new statutory rights. As we shall see, we are witnessing a form of " Lochnering." My central goal in this Article is to offer a compressed sketch of the rise and the evolution of the idea of "injury in fact" in federal standing law. It is a truly astonishing tale. The brief sketch could, of course, be a lengthy narrative; my hope is that the main lines of the tale, and its astonishing nature, will emerge more clearly if presented in a compressed fashion. I also hope that an understanding of the novelty of the injury-in-fact requirement, and its peculiar origins, might help to cast in bold relief the even newer effort to build standing principles on traditional private rights, and to expose the oddity of the associated idea that Congress lacks the authority to create rights that lack clear analogues in the common law.

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    In evaluating behaviorally informed interventions, policymakers should consider both their welfare effects (including, for example, their potentially negative effects on subjective well-being) and their effects on distributive justice (including, for example, their potentially negative effects on those at the bottom of the economic ladder). Four specific questions are relevant: (1) What are the aggregate effects on social welfare? For purposes of evaluation, it is tempting to focus on increases in participation rates or on cost-effectiveness. The welfare question is much more important, though it raises serious normative, conceptual, and empirical challenges. (2) Who is likely to be helped and who is likely to be hurt? This is a plea for a distributional analysis of the effects of behaviorally informed interventions. (3) What are the expected effects on the least well-off? It is important to ask whether the relevant interventions help or hurt those who have the least, defined in terms of welfare, a point that is connected with “prioritarianism.” (4) Do the benefits to those who are helped exceed the costs to those who are hurt? If the gainers gain more than the losers lose, we have a strong point in favor of the intervention. But the point might not be decisive if, for example, the gainers are well-off to begin with, and the losers are not. The four questions are meant as an objection to efforts to evaluate behaviorally informed interventions in terms of (for example) effects on participation rates; as a plea for analysis of the distributive effects of such interventions; and as a plea for specification and investigation of their welfare effects.

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    We live in a period in which liberalism is under considerable pressure.Can poems be liberal? Baudelaire’s Enivrez-Vous captures something essential about the most appealing forms of liberalism, and about its underlying spirit (captured, in different ways, by John Stuart Mill, Walt Whitman, and Bob Dylan as well): its insistence on freedom of choice, on the diversity of tastes and preferences, and on human agency. The poem is liberal in its exuberance – its pleasure in its own edginess, its defiance, its sheer rebelliousness, its sense of mischief, its implicit laughter, its love of life and what it has to offer. It is the opposite of dutiful. It is far more exuberant than Mill’s On Liberty, but it is exuberant in the same way.

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    Although there has been a proliferation of research and policy work into how nudges shape people's behaviour, most studies stop far short of consumer welfare analysis. In the current work, we critically reflect on recent efforts to provide insights into the consumer welfare impact of nudges using willingness to pay and subjective well-being reports and explore an unobtrusive approach that can speak to the immediate emotional impacts of a nudge: automatic facial expression coding. In an exploratory lab study, we use facial expression coding to assess the short-run emotional impact of being presented with calorie information about a popcorn snack in the context of a stylised ‘Cinema experience’. The results of the study indicate that calorie information has heterogeneous impacts on people's likelihood of choosing the snack and on the emotions they experience during the moment of choice which varies based on their level of health-consciousness. The information does not, however, affect the emotions people go on to experience while viewing movie clips, suggesting that the emotional effects of the information are short-lived. We conclude by emphasising the potential of automatic facial expression coding to provide new insights into the immediate emotional impacts of nudges and calling for further research into this promising technique.

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    Nudges are tools to achieve behavioural change. To evaluate nudges, it is essential to consider not only their overall welfare effects but also their distributional effects. Some nudges will not help, and might hurt, identifiable groups. More targeted, personalized nudging may be needed to maximize social welfare and promote distributive justice.

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    Cultivation theory assumes that frequent exposure to certain media can lead people to perceive the real world through the lens of their preferred media. This led to the research question of whether fans of science fiction who are accustomed to seeing problem solving based on science and technology are prone to accept science- and technology-based interventions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. An exploratory survey and a preregistered experiment (N = 1,983) found that participants who liked science fiction were more likely to trust science and to accept protective measures against COVID-19. This effect was especially visible for a Corona mobile-phone app but also extended to other behaviors. The effect was stronger for those whose genre preference was activated just before the behavioral intentions were assessed. Harnessing these preferences could improve health communication and may be useful in solving health crises, such as pandemics or the climate crisis.

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    In law, the process of analogical reasoning appears to work in five simple steps. (1) Some fact pattern A—the “source” case—has certain characteristics; call them x, y, and z. (2) Fact pattern B—the “target” case—has characteristics x, y, and q, or characteristics x, y, z, and q. (3) A is treated a certain way in law. (4) Some principle or rule, announced, created, or discovered in the process of thinking through A, B, and their interrelations, explains why A is treated the way that it is. (5) Because of what it shares in common with A, B should be treated the same way. It is covered by the same principle. It should be clear that the crucial step, and the most difficult, is (4). Often analogical reasoning works through the use of incompletely theorized agreements, making (4) tractable. Some of the disputes about analogical reasoning reflect contests between Burkean and Benthamite conceptions of law.

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    In philosophy, economics, and law, the idea of voluntary agreements plays a central role. It orients contractarian approaches to political legitimacy. It also helps support the claim that outsiders, and especially the state, should not interfere with private contracts. But contractarianism in political philosophy stands (or falls) on altogether different grounds from enthusiasm for contractual ordering in economics and law. When participants in voluntary agreements lack information or suffer from behavioral biases (including adaptive preferences), there is reason to help them, potentially through mandates and bans. In philosophy, the idea of contractarianism can help lead to instructive thought experiments about what justice requires, as with John Rawls’ use of the veil of ignorance and the original position; it should not be taken as a basis for theories of legitimacy that rest on actual agreements among actual groups, in which some people have more information and power than others, and in which malice and self-interest may lead to distortions.

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    In “You Bet Your Life,” Paul A. Offit looks at advances that have prolonged life, from chemotherapy to the Covid vaccine, and the difficult, even deadly, paths to arrive at them.

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    To mitigate climate change, food systems must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. For consumers, this means switching to more plant-based diets and wasting less food. A behaviorally informed policy employing nudges—educative and architectural—can be a cornerstone. Plant-based defaults promise large reduction effects while maintaining freedom of choice.

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    With respect to the views of dead thinkers, answers to many particular questions are often interpretive in Ronald Dworkin’s sense: such answers must attempt (1) to fit the materials to be interpreted and (2) to justify them, that is, to put them in the best constructive light. What looks like (1), or what purports to be (1), is often (2). That is, when a follower of Kant urges that “Kant would say x,” or that “Kantianism entails y,” the goal is to make the best constructive sense of Kant and Kantianism, not merely to follow something that Kant actually said. An approach to behavioral economics cannot claim to be Hayekian if it is rooted in enthusiasm for the abilities of planners to set prices and quantities, or if it sees the price system as a jumble of mistakes and errors. But within a not-so-narrow range, a variety of freedom-preserving approaches, alert to the epistemic limits of planners, can fairly claim to be Hayekian. Hayekian behavioral economics, I suggest, is an approach that (1) recognizes the importance and pervasiveness of individual errors, (2) emphasizes the epistemic limits of planners, (3) builds on individual choices rather than planner preferences, and (4) gives authority to choices made under epistemically favorable conditions, in which informational deficits and behavioral biases are least likely to be at work. The key step, of course, is (4). If it is properly elaborated, the resulting approach deserves respect, even if some of us, including the present author, would not entirely embrace it. In defending that proposition, the present essay responds to some critical remarks by Robert Sugden, including his resort to “explainawaytions” (Matthew Rabin’s term) for behavioral findings.

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    In its ideal form, arbitrariness review is an instrument for promoting “deliberative democracy” – a system that combines reason-giving with political accountability. Under arbitrariness review in its current form, courts tend to embrace the “hard look doctrine,” which has a procedural component, requiring agencies to offer detailed justifications, and also a substantive component, in which courts assess the reasonableness of the agencies’ choices on the merits. These are serious constraints on the executive branch, and they also reduce the risk of large-scale instability in government, in which scientific and economic judgments are overridden by political considerations. With respect to regulatory policy, it is not enough to say that “elections have consequences.” For climate change in particular, the “social cost of carbon,” or more broadly the “social cost of greenhouse gases,” is sometimes described as “the most important number you’ve never heard of.” A key reason is that within the executive branch, the stringency of regulation of greenhouse gases emissions often depends on that number. Another reason is that the social cost of carbon can and should play a role in determining the content of other kinds of initiatives, such as a carbon tax. In the United States, the relevant numbers were challenged in court under the administrations of Barack Obama (where they were upheld) and Donald Trump (where they were struck down). The litigation raises fundamental questions about the role of science, economics, and politics in judicial review of agency action, and about the relationship between courts and the administrative state. With respect to the social cost of carbon: (1) A decision to use the global number, as opposed to the domestic number, would be straightforward to defend against an arbitrariness challenge; a decision to use the domestic number, as opposed to the global number, would be difficult to defend against an arbitrariness challenge. (2) A decision to use a low discount rate, such as two percent, would be straightforward to defend against an arbitrariness challenge; a decision to use a high discount rate, such as seven percent, would be exceedingly difficult to defend against an arbitrariness challenge. (3) A wide range of decisions – involving, for example, climate sensitivity and the damage function -- raise difficult questions in science and economics; they should be straightforward to defend against an arbitrariness challenge, but only if they follow from a reasoned justification. (4) Approaches that take account of equity – including “prioritarianism” – should be defensible against an arbitrariness challenge, as should be a refusal to adopt such approaches, but here again, a reasoned justification is required. (5) A decision to “back out” a social cost of carbon, from some specific target, would be challenging to defend against an arbitrariness challenge. A general lesson, with broader implications, is that judicial review of the social cost of carbon should (and likely will) involve a procedural hard look, not a substantive hard look. A procedural hard look is important to defend against failures of both deliberation and democracy; a substantive hard look would strain judicial capacities.

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    How we became so burdened by red tape and unnecessary paperwork, and why we must do better. We’ve all had to fight our way through administrative sludge–filling out complicated online forms, mailing in paperwork, standing in line at the motor vehicle registry. This kind of red tape is a nuisance, but, as Cass Sunstein shows in Sludge, it can also also impair health, reduce growth, entrench poverty, and exacerbate inequality. Confronted by sludge, people just give up–and lose a promised outcome: a visa, a job, a permit, an educational opportunity, necessary medical help. In this lively and entertaining look at the terribleness of sludge, Sunstein explains what we can do to reduce it. Because of sludge, Sunstein, explains, too many people don’t receive benefits to which they are entitled. Sludge even prevents many people from exercising their constitutional rights–when, for example, barriers to voting in an election are too high. (A Sludge Reduction Act would be a Voting Rights Act.) Sunstein takes readers on a tour of the not-so-wonderful world of sludge, describes justifications for certain kinds of sludge, and proposes "Sludge Audits" as a way to measure the effects of sludge. On balance, Sunstein argues, sludge infringes on human dignity, making people feel that their time and even their lives don’t matter. We must do better.

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    What information would people like to have? What information would they prefer to avoid? How does the provision of information bear on welfare? Representative surveys in eleven nations find that substantial percentages of people do not want to receive information even when it bears on health, sustainability, and consumer welfare. People’s willingness to pay for information, contingent on their wanting it, is mostly higher than people’s willingness to pay not to receive information, contingent on their not wanting it. We develop a model and estimate the welfare effects. We find substantial benefits and costs, with the former outweighing the latter.

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    Informational and reputational cascades often arise in the presence of four factors: (1) preference falsification; (2) diverse thresholds; (3) social interactions; and (4) group polarization. In the context of animal welfare, cascades have often occurred, and more consequential ones are possible. First: In this domain, preference falsification has run and is running rampant. Those who care about animal welfare, or are inclined to want to say or do something about it, often silence themselves. They know that if they speak or act, they might incur social disapproval or worse. Second: People have different thresholds for disclosing their views or for taking action. With respect to animal welfare, some people really will speak out or act, even if no one else does. Others need someone to follow – but only one. Still others need two, or three, or a hundred, or more. Third: Social interactions are and continue to be crucial to the movement for animal welfare. Who is seeing whom? When? Who is talking to whom? Are visible people speaking and acting in ways that support animal welfare? Are they credible? With whom? Fourth: In many times and places, believers in animal rights, animal welfare, or both have created communities of like-minded people. These communities can be highly effective. They create a commitment to a belief that might have been held tentatively. They make that belief salient, potentially part of people’s identity. They increase confidence and unity.

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    Some of our judgments are unstable, in the sense that they are an artifact of, or endogenous to, what else we see. This is true of sensory perception: Whether an object counts as blue or purple depends on what other objects surround it. It is also true for ethical judgments: Whether conduct counts as unethical depends on what other conduct is on people’s viewscreens. There are plausible evolutionary explanations for these findings. As behavior in general regresses, actions that were previously seen as bad or as terrible may come to be seen as fine or mildly bad. Call this “opprobrium contraction.” As behavior in general improves, actions that were previously seen as fine or as mildly bad may come to seem bad or terrible. Call this “opprobrium expansion.” Because law has a signaling function, it can heighten or diminish these phenomena.

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    Both government regulators and private companies regularly assign a monetary value to human lives. A new book argues that the price is too low, and can entrench inequalities.

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    The Supreme Court is conspicuously uneasy about its Chevron framework, which requires courts to defer to agency interpretations of law, so long as those interpretations are “reasonable.” One of the principal manifestations of its uneasiness is the “major question” doctrine, which makes Chevron inapplicable to questions of great “economic and political significance.” But the major question doctrine is actually two separate doctrines. The weak version is a kind of “Chevron carve-out,” meant to ensure that courts exercise independent judgment, and so do not defer to agencies, with respect to the meaning of statutes as applied to especially important questions. By contrast, the strong version flatly prohibits agencies from interpreting ambiguous statutes so as to assert broad authority over the private sector. Both versions of the major question doctrine can claim a connection to the nondelegation doctrine. The arguments on behalf of the weak version are very different from the arguments on behalf of the strong version.

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    Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. National Resources Defense Council, Inc., the foundation for much of contemporary administrative law, is under siege. Several members of the Supreme Court have suggested that they would like to overrule it. Under standard principles of stare decisis, doing that would be a serious mistake. Even if Chevron was wrongly decided, overruling it would create an upheaval—a large shock to the legal system, producing a great deal of confusion, more conflicts in the courts of appeals, and far greater politicization of administrative law. For example: What would happen to the countless regulations that have been upheld under the Chevron framework? Would they be newly vulnerable? More fundamentally,, a predictable effect of overruling Chevron would be to ensure a far greater role for judicial policy preferences in statutory interpretation and far more common splits along ideological lines. There is also the question of reliance interests: For decades, Congress has legislated against the background set by Chevron, and the resulting statutes reflect an understanding that the Court’s framework will apply. Though the argument for overruling Chevron is unconvincing, its critics have legitimate concerns. Those concerns should be addressed by (1) insisting on a fully independent judicial role in deciding whether a statute is ambiguous at Step One; (2) invalidating arbitrary or unreasonable agency interpretations at Step Two; and (3) deploying canons of construction, including those that are designed to serve nondelegation functions and thus to cabin executive authority. The result would not quite be Zombie Chevron, but it would be close to that, and the most reasonable path forward.

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    Imagine that two doctors in the same city give different diagnoses to identical patients — or that two judges in the same courthouse give different sentences to people who have committed the same crime. Suppose that different food inspectors give different ratings to indistinguishable restaurants — or that when a company is handling customer complaints, the resolution depends on who happens to be handling the particular complaint. Now imagine that the same doctor, the same judge, the same inspector, or the same company official makes different decisions, depending on whether it is morning or afternoon, or Monday rather than Wednesday. These are examples of noise: variability in judgments that should be identical. In Noise, Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein show how noise helps produce errors in many fields, including medicine, law, public health, economic forecasting, food safety, forensic science, bail, child protection, strategy, performance reviews and and personnel selection. And although noise can be found wherever people make judgments and decisions, individuals and organizations alike commonly ignore to its role in their judgments and in their actions. They show “noise neglect.” With a few simple remedies, people can reduce both noise and bias, and so make far better decisions. Packed with new ideas, and drawing on the same kind of diligent, insightful research that made Thinking, Fast and Slow and Nudge groundbreaking New York Times bestsellers, Noise explains how and why humans are so susceptible to noise in judgment — and what we can do about it.

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    Psychological research shows that judgment is surprisingly dependent on mood—and that being in a bad one has a silver lining.

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    The world is increasingly confronted with new challenges related to climate change, globalization, disease, and technology. Governments are faced with having to decide how much risk is worth taking, how much destruction and death can be tolerated, and how much money should be invested in the hopes of avoiding catastrophe. Lacking full information, should decision-makers focus on avoiding the most catastrophic outcomes? When should extreme measures be taken to prevent as much destruction as possible? Averting Catastrophe explores how governments ought to make decisions in times of imminent disaster. Cass R. Sunstein argues that using the “maximin rule,” which calls for choosing the approach that eliminates the worst of the worst-case scenarios, may be necessary when public officials lack important information, and when the worst-case scenario is too disastrous to contemplate. He underscores this argument by emphasizing the reality of “Knightian uncertainty,” found in circumstances in which it is not possible to assign probabilities to various outcomes. Sunstein brings foundational issues in decision theory in close contact with real problems in regulation, law, and daily life, and considers other potential future risks. At once an approachable introduction to decision-theory and a provocative argument for how governments ought to handle risk, Averting Catastrophe offers a definitive path forward in a world rife with uncertainty.

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    As a rule, regulation is not acquired by “the industry,” and it is not designed and operated primarily for its benefit. The mechanisms behind the promulgation of regulations are multiple, and almost all of the time, it greatly matters whether regulators believe that regulations will, all things considered, have good consequences. In terms of understanding the sources of regulations, it would therefore be valuable to obtain more clarity about the sources of the beliefs of regulators — about what information they receive and find credible, and why.

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    The American administrative state has become a cost-benefit state, at least in the sense that prevailing executive orders require agencies to proceed only if the benefits justify the costs. Some people celebrate this development; others abhor it. For defenders of the cost-benefit state, the antonym of their ideal is, alternately, regulation based on dogmas, intuitions, pure expressivism, political preferences, or interest-group power. Seen most sympathetically, the focus on costs and benefits is a neo-Benthamite effort to attend to the real-world consequences of regulations, and it casts a pragmatic, skeptical light on modern objections to the administrative state, invoking public-choice theory and the supposed self-serving decisions of unelected bureaucrats. The focus on costs and benefits is also a valuable effort to go beyond coarse arguments, from both the right and the left, that tend to ask this unhelpful question: “Which side are you on?” In the future, however, there will be much better ways, which we might consider neo-Millian, to identify those consequences: (1) by relying less on unreliable ex ante projections and more on actual evaluations; (2) by focusing directly on welfare and not relying on imperfect proxies; and (3) by attending closely to distributional considerations – on who is helped and who is hurt.

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    This sharp and engaging collection of essays by leading governmental scholar Cass R. Sunstein examines shifting understandings of what’s normal, and how those shifts account for the feminist movement, the civil rights movement, the rise of Adolf Hitler, the founding itself, the rise of gun rights, the response to COVID-19, and changing understandings of liberty. Prevailing norms include the principle of equal dignity, the idea of not treating the press as an enemy of the people, and the social unacceptability of open expressions of racial discrimination. But norms are very different from laws. They arise and change in response to individual and collective action. Exploring Nazism, #MeToo, the work of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, constitutional amendments, pandemics, and the influence of Ayn Rand, Sunstein reveals how norms ultimately determine the shape of government in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere.

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    One of Friedrich Hayek's most important arguments pointed to the epistemic advantages of the price system, regarded as an institution. As Hayek showed, the price system incorporates the information held by numerous, dispersed people. Like John Stuart Mill, Hayek also offered an epistemic argument on behalf of freedom of choice. A contemporary challenge to that epistemic argument comes from behavioral economics, which has uncovered an assortment of reasons why choosers err, and also pointed to possible distortions in the price system. But, even if those findings are accepted, what should public institutions do? How should they proceed? A neo-Hayekian approach would seek to reduce the knowledge problem by asking what individual choosers actually do under epistemically favorable conditions. In practice, that question can be disciplined by asking five subsidiary questions: (1) What do consistent choosers, unaffected by self-evidently irrelevant factors, end up choosing? (2) What do informed choosers choose? (3) What do active choosers choose? (4) When people are free of behavioral biases, including (say) present bias or unrealistic optimism, what do they choose? (5) What do people choose when their viewscreen is broad, and they do not suffer from limited attention? These questions are illustrated with reference to the intense controversy over fuel economy standards.

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    Increasing the uptake of green energy use by households and businesses is a key step toward reducing environmental harm and combating climate change. In a new paper, Liebe et al.show that a non-monetary intervention can have massive effects on green energy consumption, leading to substantial reductions in carbon emissions.

  • Cass R. Sunstein, Forward to The Behaviorally Informed Organization, at xi (Dilip Soman & Catherine Yeung eds., 2021).

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    Many people believe that the Chevron framework, calling for judicial deference to reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous statutory provisions, is fatally inconsistent with section 706 of the Administrative Procedure Act. An investigation of the historical context shows that this belief is incorrect. There is no indication that the provision was generally understood, in the 1940s and 1950s, to require independent judicial judgments about questions of law.

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    Lying has been with us from time immemorial. Yet today is different-and in many respects worse. All over the world, people are circulating damaging lies, and these falsehoods are amplified as never before through powerful social media platforms that reach billions. Liars are saying that COVID-19 is a hoax. They are claiming that vaccines cause autism. They are lying about public officials and about people who aspire to high office. They are lying about their friends and neighbors. They are trying to sell products on the basis of untruths. Unfriendly governments, including Russia, are circulating lies in order to destabilize other nations, including the United Kingdom and the United States. In the face of those problems, the renowned legal scholar Cass Sunstein probes the fundamental question of how we can deter lies while also protecting freedom of speech. To be sure, we cannot eliminate lying, nor should we try to do so. Sunstein shows why free societies must generally allow falsehoods and lies, which cannot and should not be excised from democratic debate. A main reason is that we cannot trust governments to make unbiased judgments about what counts as "fake news." However, governments should have the power to regulate specific kinds of falsehoods: those that genuinely endanger health, safety, and the capacity of the public to govern itself. Sunstein also suggests that private institutions, such as Facebook and Twitter, have a great deal of room to stop the spread of falsehoods, and they should be exercising their authority far more than they are now doing. As Sunstein contends, we are allowing far too many lies, including those that both threaten public health and undermine the foundations of democracy itself.

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    Collected here are nineteen responses to the question, “What 21st-century works will merit a close reading in 2050?” Clarifications of that question are provided in a foreword. This tranche represents responses from authors with last names beginning L through Z. The nineteen responses presented here are from Mitchell Langbert, Andrés Marroquín, Steven G. Medema, Alberto Mingardi, Paul D. Mueller, Stephen R. Munzer, Evan W. Osborne, Justin T. Pickett, Rupert Read and Frank M. Scavelli, Hugh Rockoff, Kurt Schuler, Daniel J. Schwekendiek, Per Skedinger, E. Frank Stephenson, Scott Sumner, Cass R. Sunstein, Slaviša Tasić, Clifford F. Thies, and Richard E. Wagner. Responses from authors A through K were provided in the previous issue of this journal