Sunday, September 20, 2009


What is coercion? In simple cases of coercion, one wants to do x, but through threat of force (a gun to the head), or maybe through the presence of a computer hooked up to one's brain, one does y instead.

But is there another type of coercion, in which another person uses motives that may be in place in order to bring it about that that person does what is contrary to their own best interests?

I saw a show (one of the 60 Minutes clones, can't remember which) in which an FBI agent or Lebanese was running a sting operation where he posed as an Al-Queda operative, got some teenagers to sign up for terrorist activity in exchange for money, and then had them arrested. The young kids agreed that they had been seduced by their own greed. But were they still coerced in some significant sense, because they were persuaded to act against their own best interests? Were they truly free even in the compatibilist sense?


Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

Victor, I liked your bringing up of the FBI sting operation. I have always believed that sting operations are intrinsically immoral, as they tempt persons to commit crimes they otherwise may never have done, or even thought of doing. Why is our government in the business of creating crime where none existed before they themselves instigated it, putting the idea into the heads of people who otherwise would have led crime-free lives?

Kevin Jackson said...

I would describe that as enticement, not coercion.