Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (1):63 - 82 (2013)

Benjamin Sachs
New York University
Ben Sachs
University of St. Andrews
It is usually thought that wrongful acts of threat-involving coercion are wrong because they involve a violation of the freedom or autonomy of the targets of those acts. I argue here that this cannot possibly be right, and that in fact the wrongness of wrongful coercion has nothing at all to do with the effect such actions have on their targets. This negative thesis is supported by pointing out that what we say about the ethics of threatening (and thus the ethics of coercion) constrains what we can say about the ethics of warning and offering. Importantly, our favoured explanation of the wrongness of certain kinds of threatening should not commit us to condemning as wrong parallel cases of warning and offering. My positive project is to show how this can be done. I defend the claim that wrongful coercion is nothing more than the issuing of a conditional threat to do wrong, and that an agent's issuing of a conditional threat to do wrong is wrong because it constitutes motivation for that agent to adopt the announced intention to do wrong. The idea of explaining the wrongness of wrongful coercion in this way has gone unnoticed because we have thus far been mistaken about what a threat is. In this essay I present my moral analysis of coercion only after presenting a careful descriptive analysis of threats. On my view, it is essential to a threat that the announced intention is one that the agent does not possess before announcing it. This analysis makes it possible to elucidate the descriptive differences between threats, warnings and offers, which sets up the later project of elucidating the moral differences between them
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2013
DOI 10.1080/00048402.2011.646280
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,979
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Moral Coercion.Saba Bazargan - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
Law and Coercion: Some Clarification.Lucas Miotto - 2021 - Ratio Juris 34 (1):74-87.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Bargaining Advantages and Coercion in the Market.Joan Mcgregor - 1988 - Philosophy Research Archives 14:23-50.
A Theory of Wrongful Exploitation.Mikhail Valdman - 2009 - Philosophers' Imprint 9:1-14.
Coercion and Integrity.Elinor Mason - 2012 - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics: Volume 2. Oxford University Press.
Coercion and Moral Blameworthiness.Lloyd Fields - 2001 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 15 (1):135-151.
Consent Under Pressure: The Puzzle of Third Party Coercion.Joseph Millum - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (1):113-127.
Defending the Right To Do Wrong.Ori J. Herstein - 2012 - Law and Philosophy 31 (3):343-365.
Reply to Wallace's 'on Making Actions Morally Wrong'.Richard Swinburne - 1976 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):551 - 552.
Are Coerced Agreements Involuntary?Michael Philips - 1984 - Law and Philosophy 3 (1):133 - 145.
For Permitting Hazing.Stephen Kershnar - 2011 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (1):87-106.


Added to PP index

Total views
149 ( #78,393 of 2,505,146 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
7 ( #102,909 of 2,505,146 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes