Coercion: The Wrong and the Bad

Ethics 128 (3):545-573 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The idea of coercion is one that has played, and continues to play, at least two importantly distinct moral-theoretic roles in our thinking. One, which has been the focus of a number of recent influential treatments, is a primarily deontic role in which claims of coercion serve to indicate relatively weighty prima facie wrongs and excuses. The other, by contrast, is a primarily axiological or eudaimonic role in which claims of coercion serve to pick out instances of some distinctive kind of pro tanto human bad (such as unfreedom or interpersonal subjection). I argue that this turns out not to be a simple case of one idea put to two different uses, but rather a case of two subtly distinct ideas in need of separate philosophical treatment. Moreover, although often relatively neglected, the primarily eudaimonic idea of coercion is of enduring importance to both liberal-perfectionist and socialist political moralities, as well as to personal ethics. This paper aims to elucidate it and to examine its relationship to its better-theorised deontic cousin. In addition, the paper seeks to show how a better understanding of these aspects of the concept can enable us to resolve certain important and long-standing theoretical disagreements, such as the dispute over whether coercion is an ‘essentially moralised’ concept and the dispute over whether (genuine) offers can be coercive.

Similar books and articles

The Nature of Political Coercion: An Analysis and Justification.Wei Han - 2004 - Dissertation, The University of Connecticut
Bargaining Advantages and Coercion in the Market.Joan McGregor - 1988 - Philosophy Research Archives 14:23-50.
Equality and the Significance of Coercion.Gabriel Wollner - 2011 - Journal of Social Philosophy 42 (4):363-381.
Coercive Interference and Moral Judgment.Jan-Willem van der Rijt - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (5):549 - 567.
Bargaining Advantages and Coercion in the Market.Joan McGregor - 1988 - Philosophy Research Archives 14:23-50.
Moral Coercion.Saba Bazargan - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
Why coercion is wrong when it’s wrong.Benjamin Sachs - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1):63 - 82.
Coercive Offers: A Study of the Nature and Ethics of Coercion.J. Gregory Dees - 1986 - Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University
Coercion and the nature of law.Grant Lamond - 2001 - Legal Theory 7 (1):35-57.

Analytics

Added to PP
2017-09-22

Downloads
2,328 (#3,402)

6 months
96 (#38,559)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Michael Garnett
King's College London

References found in this work

Force and freedom: Kant's legal and political philosophy.Arthur Ripstein - 2009 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Exploitation.Alan Wertheimer - 1996 - Princeton University Press.
Coercion.Robert Nozick - 1969 - In White Morgenbesser (ed.), Philosophy, Science, and Method: Essays in Honor of Ernest Nagel. St Martin's Press. pp. 440--72.
The moral limits of the criminal Law.Joël Feinberg - 1984 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 93 (2):279-279.

View all 38 references / Add more references