What Is the Definition of Coercion

He argued that coercion was necessary; This crime could not be crushed in Ireland, but by the strong arm of the law. Different forms of coercion are distinguished: on the one hand, according to the nature of the harm threatened, on the other hand, according to its objectives and extent, and finally according to its effects, on which its legal, social and ethical effects depend mainly depend. Of course, if coercion defies what is necessary, there is no forced action to investigate, nor to answer a question about responsibility for such action. There is also reason to doubt that what the need has done in such cases meets the bar at which we should regard this as a constraint. (If a threat is trivial, we would probably refuse to say that an officer was coerced by it, even if he is acting to prevent it from being executed.) On the other hand, it may be unwise to make a categorical distinction between cases where coercion succeeds and cases where it fails: the difference between them on certain occasions may be nothing more than the state of mind in which the coercion was at that time. Since the coercive has the last and final say on whether he will carry out coercive measures (and who will be mandated by him), it may be more logical to identify our phenomenon of interest with a particular form of coercive activity and to admit that this activity may or may not have other notable consequences. (Potential coercion can, of course, bluff, and potential coercion can call for bluffing; that alone would give no reason to deny that we have an example of the technique studied here.) Edmundson`s critique of the canonical view of the state as coercion reveals a deeper root of some disagreements about coercion. In fact, Edmundson provides a reason to question how special or important coercion is. Coercion may require certain actions, but people in any natural world will be limited by necessities of all kinds: the physical limits of our bodies in our environment and our needs for things like food, shelter, shelter, and perhaps even community, gratitude, and love. Being forced adds or changes in some way what you need to do. But being subject to coercive law could also offer greater opportunities or freedom from necessity, as criminal law arguably does, at least if properly formulated and applied. [27] If just laws offer us protection from wrongdoers while leaving us free to commit any morally justified act (provided that the criminal law prohibits only unjust acts), then the threat of use of force by law against offenders may not merit special consideration.

Rather, we could see it as a change, regularization, and rationalization of the necessities to which man is subjected anyway. Edmundson and those with whom he argues can all agree that coercion for illegal purposes is a matter of moral importance and a reason for special scrutiny and opposition. What Edmundson shows is that moralized approaches to coercion make it difficult to understand why the technique itself and the agents who can use it deserve particular attention. In the next section, we will examine how coercion is supposed to interfere with freedom, which has obvious ethical implications for its own sake. Therefore, the treatment of these types of ethical issues is postponed to this point. This section addresses more fundamental questions about whether coercion is inherently wrong and what might be wrong with it other than its effects on freedom or autonomy. One way to identify coercive threats is to look for a distinct way in which pressure can influence the will for coercion. Sometimes the use of threats, which depend on the agent`s activities, can affect not only the choice of coercion, but also his ability to choose. Under intense psychological pressure, in the face of serious danger or significant harm, people sometimes react in a way that deviates from (or at least does not follow) their more rational and deliberate desires. Harry Frankfurt seems to make this a prerequisite for what is considered coercion, saying: “A threat of coercion arouses in its victim a desire – that is, to avoid punishment – so strongly that it will induce him to perform the required action, whether he wants or deems it appropriate” (Frankfurt 1988 [1973], 78). Frankfurt has several reasons for insisting on this strong requirement, but perhaps the most central is its view that coercion must have such an overwhelming effect if it is to outweigh the moral responsibility for coercion to action (Frankfurt 1988 [1973], 75-76).

However, treating these excessive demands as a sufficient condition for coercion again supports the view that some – irresistible – offers will also turn out to be coercion. Although the fact that Q`s will was exaggerated seems consistent with the claim that Q was coerced, few people, with the exception of Frankfurt, considered such an overload a necessary condition for coercion. [14] As mentioned above, there are a number of coercion reports that insist that coercion is a violation of the law or other normative defect, of which Alan Wertheimer`s coercion is the most important. But if coercion is necessarily an immoral action, then it is difficult to explain how an act of coercion can be considered justified. [26] Among other implications, this view is in clear contradiction with the traditional approach to coercion, which treats states as paradigmatic, even necessarily as users of coercion. As William Edmundson pointed out (and as Nozick noted in 1969), while the state has the right to punish wrongdoers, it does not threaten when it threatens to aggravate them to what they should be (Edmundson, 1995 and 1998, chaps. 4-6). In an approach to coercion that insists that it is an immoral activity, the use of police powers by the state to enforce the law is not coercion. This kind of state coercion of speaking and acting seems to suit the freedom-conservative crowd. Another way to understand coercion is to stop focusing on its effects on coercion. Some approaches, as McGregors mentioned above, seek coercion within coercion by exploiting certain types of power differences between coercion and coercion.

Others identify coercion with threat formulation, but try to distinguish threats from offers in a way that avoids reference to a baseline, and instead examine the qualities of the coercive device and its activities. Mitchell Berman, following Vinit Haksar, argued for an approach whose essence is that immoral coercive threats suggest something that would be immoral if implemented. (See Berman, 2002; Haksar, 1976.) (Berman apparently offers no definition of coercion per se, but only of unlawful coercion.) Instead, Grant Lamond focuses on the deliberate attempt of coercion to exert pressure to change coercive activities, which stems from the intention to deliberately push back on the interests of coercion.