The idea that payment for research participation can be coercive appears widespread among research ethics committee members, researchers, and regulatory bodies. Yet analysis of the concept of coercion by philosophers and bioethicists has mostly concluded that payment does not coerce, because coercion necessarily involves threats, not offers. In this article we aim to resolve this disagreement by distinguishing between two distinct but overlapping concepts of coercion. Consent-undermining coercion marks out certain actions as impermissible and certain agreements as unenforceable. By contrast, (...) coercion as subjection indicates a way in which someone’s interests can be partially set back in virtue of being subject to another’s foreign will. While offers of payment do not normally constitute consent-undermining coercion, they do sometimes constitute coercion as subjection. We offer an analysis of coercion as subjection and propose three possible practical responses to worries about the coerciveness of payment. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
In this paper I propose and develop a social account of global autonomy. On this view, a person is autonomous simply to the extent to which it is difficult for others to subject her to their wills. I argue that many properties commonly thought necessary for autonomy are in fact properties that tend to increase an agent’s immunity to such interpersonal subjection, and that the proposed account is therefore capable of providing theoretical unity to many of the otherwise heterogeneous requirements (...) of autonomy familiar from recent discussions. Specifically, I discuss three such requirements: (i) possession of legally protected status, (ii) a sense of one’s own self-worth, and (iii) a capacity for critical reflection. I argue that the proposed account is not only theoretically satisfying but also yields a rich and attractive conception of autonomy. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that agents are self-ruled only when ruled by their (authentic) selves. Though this view is rarely argued for explicitly, one tempting line of thought suggests that self-rule is just obviously equivalent to rule by the self . However, the plausibility of this thought evaporates upon close examination of the logic of ‘self-rule’ and similar reflexives. Moreover, attempts to rescue the account by recasting it in negative terms are unpromising. In light of these problems, this paper instead proposes (...) that agents are self-ruled only when not ruled by others. One reason for favouring this negative social view is its ability to yield plausible conclusions concerning various manipulation cases that are notoriously problematic for nonsocial accounts of self-rule. A second reason is that the account conforms with ordinary usage. It is concluded that self-rule may be best thought of as an essentially social concept. (shrink)
This paper concerns the relationship between two questions. The first is a question about inner freedom: What is it to be rendered unfree, not by external obstacles, but by aspects of oneself? The second is a question about agency: What is it to fail at being a thing that genuinely acts, and instead to be a thing that is merely acted upon, passive in relation to its own behaviour? It is widely believed that answers to the first question must rest (...) on or be partly explained by answers to the second. Here I argue that this is a mistake: losses of inner freedom are not, after all, explicable in terms of failures of agency. To establish this conclusion, I consider three familiar lines of thought that appear to tie ideas about inner freedom to ideas about agency, each relating to a different conception of inner freedom: absence of inner constraint, self-government, and absence of determination by external forces. I argue that, in each case, any apparent conceptual reliance on a special conception of agency is merely illusory, the result being that we must allow clear water between our theories of inner freedom and our theories of agency. This conclusion is of significance for contemporary theories of agency and personal autonomy, as well as for ‘positive’ conceptions of political liberty. (shrink)
I defend the idea that a liberal commitment to value neutrality is best honoured by maintaining a pure cardinality component in our rankings of opportunity or liberty sets. I consider two challenges to this idea. The first holds that cardinality rankings are unnecessary for neutrality, because what is valuable about a set of liberties from a liberal point of view is not its size but rather its variety. The second holds that pure cardinality metrics are insufficient for neutrality, because liberties (...) cannot be individuated into countable entities without presupposing some relevantly partisan evaluative perspective. I argue that a clear understanding of the liberal basis for valuing liberty shows the way to satisfying responses to both challenges. (shrink)
What is liberty, and can it be measured? In this paper I argue that the only way to have a liberty metric is to adopt an account of liberty with specific and controversial features. In particular, I argue that we can make sense of the idea of a quantity of liberty only if we are willing to count certain purely agential constraints, such as ignorance and physical incompetence, as obstacles to liberty in general. This spells trouble for traditional ‘negative’ accounts, (...) against which I argue directly. My aim is to establish the following somewhat surprising claim: that if a political theory is to contain a principle regarding the protection, maximisation, or equalisation of some liberty, it must concern itself--on pain of conceptual incoherence--with the positive preconditions (in addition to the negative preconditions) of that liberty’s effective exercise. (shrink)
It has been alleged that compatibilists are committed to the view that agents act freely and responsibly even when subject to certain forms of radical manipulation. In this paper I identify and elucidate a form of compatibilist freedom, social autonomy, that is essential to understanding what is wrong with ordinary indoctrination and argue that it also holds the key to understanding what goes wrong in more fanciful manipulation cases.
I defend my pure social account of global autonomy from Steven Weimer's recent criticisms. In particular, I argue that it does not implicitly rely upon the very kind of nonsocial conception of autonomy that it hopes to replace.
Certain forms of practical deference seem to be incompatible with personal autonomy. I argue that such deference undermines autonomy not by compromising the governance of an authentic self, nor by constituting a failure to track objective reasons, but by constituting a particular social relation: one of interpersonal rule. I analyse this social relation and distinguish it from others, including ordinary relations of love and care. Finally, I argue that the particular form of interpersonal rule constituted by dispositions of practical deference (...) in itself entails a partial, though not total, disconnection from the good of a self-authored life. (shrink)
In A Metaphysics for Freedom, Helen Steward proposes and defends a novel version of the libertarian account of free action. Amongst several objections that she considers to her view, one that looms particularly large is the Challenge from Chance: ‘the most powerful, widely-promulgated and important line of anti-libertarian reasoning’. This paper begins by arguing that Steward’s response to the Challenge is not fully convincing. It then goes on to explore a further possible libertarian line of defence against the Challenge, arguing (...) that it, too, ultimately fails. The conclusion is that the Challenge remains an important source of dialectical advantage for the compatibilist. (shrink)
This paper argues that there are two irreducibly distinct negative concepts of liberty: freedom as non-prevention, and freedom as non-coercion. Contemporary proponents of the negative view, such as Matthew Kramer and Ian Carter, have sought to develop the Hobbesian idea that freedom is essentially a matter of physical non-prevention. Accordingly, they have sought to reduce the freedom-diminishing effect of coercion to that of prevention by arguing that coercive threats function to diminish freedom by preventing people from performing certain combinations of (...) actions. Against this, this paper argues that coercion diminishes people’s freedom in ways that cannot be fully captured in terms of prevention. Focusing on two types of case, those involving coercive threats and those involving coercive preference manipulation, it argues that non-coercion and physical non-prevention are importantly different goods. It concludes that a complete negative account of liberty must draw not only on the (Hobbesian) ‘non-prevention’ strand of the negative tradition but also on its (Hayekian) ‘non-coercion’ strand. (shrink)
What is 'positive freedom'? Whereas negative freedom may be characterised as an absence of coercion or physical prevention, and republican freedom as an absence of interpersonal domination, positive freedom resists such pithy treatment. The term is widely taken to refer to a variety of seemingly distinct goods, including but not limited to actually exercisable options or capabilities, collective self-determination, psychological self-government, and self-realisation or flourishing. In this paper I aim to bring the positive conception into better focus by tracing the (...) positive tradition through some of its twists and turns, and considering in what ways it might qualify as a single tradition. Drawing on the lessons of this survey, I then suggest a way of thinking about the nature of positive freedom that’s both principled and historically informed. (shrink)