Distinctive duress

Philosophical Studies 177 (4):1007-1026 (2020)
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Duress is a defense in both law and morality. The bank teller who provides an armed robber with the bank vault combination, the innocent suspect who fabricates a story after hours of interrogation, the Good Samaritan who breaks into a private cabin in the woods to save a stranded hiker, and the father who drives at high speed to rush his injured child to the hospital—in deciding how to respond to agents like these, we should take into account that they have acted under duress. In this paper, I offer a new duress defense, which I call “distinctive duress.” The distinctive-duress defense is neither ordinary justification nor ordinary excuse. Rather, it is a defense available to agents who act wrongly because they are appropriately insensitive to certain reasons. In the distinctive-duress cases, an agent’s normative sensitivities are rightly directed elsewhere, leading them awry.
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