DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-S007-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

Article Summary

Coercion (also called ‘duress’) is one of the basic exculpating excuses both in morality and in some systems of criminal law. Unlike various kinds of direct compulsion that give a victim no choice, a coercee is left with a choice, albeit a very unappealing one. They can do what is demanded, or can refuse, opting instead for the consequences, with which they are threatened. Sometimes courts find that the coercive threat that led the defendant to act as they did was objectively resistible by any person of reasonable fortitude, especially when the defendant’s conduct was gravely harmful to others or to the state.

A proposal is an offer when it projects for the recipient’s consideration a prospect that is welcome in itself, and not harmful or unwelcome beyond what would happen in the normal course of events. Coercive offers, according to some writers, are those that force a specific choice from the victim while actually enhancing their freedom. Some argue, however, that genuine coercion requires the active and deliberate creation of a vulnerability, and not mere opportunistic exploitation of a vulnerability discovered fortuitously.

    Citing this article:
    Feinberg, Joel. Coercion, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S007-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2021 Routledge.

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