Coercive Interference and Moral Judgment

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (5):549-567 (2011)
Coercion is by its very nature hostile to the individual subjected to it. At the same time, it often is a necessary evil: political life cannot function without at least some instances of coercion. Hence, it is not surprising that coercion has been the topic of heated philosophical debate for many decades. Though numerous accounts have been put forth in the literature, relatively little attention has been paid to the question what exactly being subjected to coercion does to an individual that makes it so hostile to his person. This paper develops an analysis of the subjective aspect of coercion whereby this hostility is explained. It is argued that coercion is not just a matter of interference with one’s agency, but also affects one’s morality. Because coercion is a form of subjugation it does more than merely limit one’s freedom, it constitutes an affront to one’s dignity as well. A new account of coercion is developed that pays particular attention to the subjectivity inherent in coercion. This account takes a middle ground in the ongoing debate between advocates of moralised and non-moralised conceptualisations of coercion. The paper closes by applying this account to two prominent issues in the literature on coercion: the use of coercion claims in attempts to avoid being held responsible for one’s actions, and the coerciveness of the law
Keywords Coercion  Moral judgment  Moralisation  Responsibility  Coerciveness of the law
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-011-9262-2
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References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
J. Rawls (1995). Political Liberalism. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.

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