"Claiming responsibility for actions under duress"

This paper argues that to understand the varieties of wrongs done in coercion, we should examine the dynamic normative relation that the coercer establishes with the coerced. The case rests on a critical examination of coercion by threat, which is proved irreducible to psychological inducement by overwhelming motives, obstruction of agency by impaired consent or deprivation of genuine choice. In contrast to physical coercion, coercion by threat requires the coercee’s participation in deliberation to succeed. For this kind of coercion to be successful, there must be a normative relation established by the coercer and the coercee, in which they recognize each other as rational agents. In such cases, the coercee is wronged in the exercise of her deliberative powers. As a consequence, this form of coercion does not cancel the coercee’s moral responsibility for coerced action. Reclaiming the coercee’s responsibility for action under threat does not diminish the visibility and gravity of the coercer’s wrongdoing. On the contrary, it allows us to capture some features of the coercive relation that otherwise remain unfocused and thus identify the distinctive ways in which the coercee is wronged.


Carla Bagnoli (University of Modena)
Carla Bagnoli (University of Modena)

Carla Bagnoli is Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Modena. Bagnoli has published three monographs on moral dilemmas, the limits of ethical theory, and the authority of morality.  She is currently working on a constructivist model of normativity that highlights the incompleteness and relationality of practical reasons. This model is designed to deal with complex phenomena such as perplexity and conflicts among sources of normative authority, starting from considerations about the limited and embodied practical subjects, sensitive to reasoning.

Source: personal website