Coercion and Captivity

In Lori Gruen (ed.), The Ethics of Captivity. pp. 248-271 (2014)
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This paper considers three modes of captivity with an eye to examining the effects of captivity on free agency and whether these modes depend on or constitute coercion. These modes are: physical captivity, psychological captivity, and social/legal captivity. All these modes of captivity may severely impact capacities a person relies on for free agency in different ways. They may also undermine or destroy a person’s identity-constituting cares and values. On a Nozick-style view of coercion, coercion amounts to conditional threats and so many of the processes creating captivity are not coercive. However, this view overlooks the role that barriers to action play in making threats effective. Thus, an enforcement view of coercion is better to understand the coercion that takes place in captivity but the effects of the use of power on a captive’s psychology remains an important area of investigation.

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Lisa Rivera
University of Massachusetts, Boston


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