Talk:Coercion

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COERCION AND MURDER? following is the article cut n paste: "Physical coercion

Physical coercion is the most commonly considered form, where the content of the conditional threat is the use of force against the person, the dear ones or the property of the victim, An oft-used example is "putting a gun to someone's head" to compel action. Armed forces in many countries use firing squads to maintain discipline."

does physical coercion including death and murder? or is it coercion only if it is done to send a message to others? because the one being shot is dead. So shooting the person is not being coerced. He is being murdered. This should be modified to clarify.omerlivesOmerlives 23:13, 26 May 2006 (UTC)



Libertarians and some others have a special pejorative meaning of coercion, implying that the use or threat of force is one of the ones they disapprove of.

Someone please explain this sentence; it doesn't make sense to me &, as a result, I'm not sure if it's accurate. --Sam

It seems poorly worded; from what I can gather, I'd guess the original writer intended to draw a distinction between "necessary" coercion (arresting criminals, etc.) and "unnecessary" coercion, such as (dare I say it) pre-emptive military strikes. I'd need more coffee before I could tackle a rewrite, though.  ;)
Hephaestos 19:08 Dec 13, 2002 (UTC)

--- I reverted the unnecessarily restrictive redefinition that was substituted by an anon. user: "Coercion is the initiation of force, threat of force, or deception (fraud) to disallow a person from having willful use of his body or property. " Does anyone want to expand on this and add it to the entry, without discarding the existing general usage? --Wetman 19:37, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It's actually less restrictive, because it allows for the repression of action to be included under "coercion." Forcefully preventing someone from walking down the street is coercion, just as is forcing him to walk down the street. It also allows for theft ...taking his money without his consent is coercion as well --it's not just about his body, but all of which is his. So, I'll put it back in unless you have a better wording. (RJII)
"Coercion is the use of force or the threat of such force, including violence, to dictate the actions of others. " This text, which has been suppressed by RJII, offered the broader definition. RJII's version, "Coercion is the initiation of force, threat of force, or deception (fraud) to disallow a person from having willful use of his body or property. " is a perfectly acceptable single aspect-- though why "initiation" is the definitive aspect of "use"... but this entry is currently a one-user playpen, so I'll take it off my Watch list... --Wetman 22:33, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

the intro paragraph[edit]

The version from R2D2 says: "Coercion is the threat of force used to enforce an act a person would not wish to carry out voluntarily or by persuasion. Often, it involves the use of actual force in order to make the threat credible, but it is the threat of (further) force which brings about the cooperation of the person being coerced. The term usually has a pejorative connotation, implying that such threat or force is illegitimate. Coercion, in its various forms, is generally illegal, and the subject of much of criminal law. The state generally has a monopoly of the legitimate use of force, but as coercion is generally illegitimate, it is controversial to describe the state as having a monopoly of the use of coercion." <--This is way too flawed.

  • 1) He took out the fact that coercion is not always by threat and frequently isn't. A threat doesn't have to exist. If you just grab Joe and push him off a cliff, that's coercion.
Coercion is forcing someone to do something against their will. Pushing Joe off a cliff is just use of force, not coercion. (Although pushing Joe off a cliff could be used to coerce someone else into doing something they don't want, by way of threat that this will happen to them too.) Rd232 08:22, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • 2) He took out the allowance for restraining someone from movement, which is coercion as well. If you stop Joe from walking to school, that's coercion as well. Coercion is not only forcing to do, but includes using force to prevent someone from doing. Not only about making someone act, but preventing him from acting.
A pointless distinction. How do I prevent Joe from walking to school without threatening him? (With or without actual force to make the threat credible). Rd232 08:22, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • 3) He took out the allowance for stealing which is also coercion. Pickpocketing Joe as he walks to school is coercion as well even though you aren't forcing him to do anything. Coercion is not just about the Joe's body, but about everything that is his.
This is not coercion. It is theft. Armed robbery involves coercion. Rd232 08:22, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • 4) He took out the allowance for coercion to obtain someone's money by deception...otherwise known as fraud.
This is not coercion. It is exploitation. Armed robbery involves coercion. Rd232 08:22, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • 5) Then he says that coercion is generally illegal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Coercion is an essential way that government controls or organizes society ..all fully legal.
Armed robbery is generally illegal. See below on state "coercion". Rd232 08:22, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • 6) Then he says that "the state generally has a monopoly of the legitimate use of force, but as coercion is generally illegitimate, it is controversial to describe the state as having a monopoly of the use of coercion." This is clearly a biased statement. Whether or not government force is "legitimate" is a value judgement. Then he says that "coercion is generally illegitimate" ..another statement of bias. It's a pretty bizarre statement to try to decipher at least.
Armed robbery is generally illegitimate and illegal, as is pushing people off cliffs. And it is basic political science that a (if not the) key definition of a state is that it has a monopoly on the use of legitimate force. This does not mean that all force that the state uses is legitimate; it means that (non-defensive) force applied by individuals not carrying out the functions of the state is illegitimate (illegal). Rd232 08:22, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)
  • 7) If he wants to talk about coercion in relation to a state he should save that for later on the article. Leave the intro about definining exactly what coercion is.
The state relationship to coercin is not incidental to the definition. Rd232 08:22, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I'm replacing with the superior version of the intro that he deleted. (RJII) DEC 29

This is the version he wiped out.: " Coercion is the initiation of force, threat of force, or deception (fraud) to disallow a person from having willful use of his body or property. Coercion, as initiatory force, is distinguished from defense (reactive force used to repel coercion). It usually has a pejorative connotation, implying that such force is unjustified or misapplied. Coercion is not to be confused with persuasion, which is an attempt to change the opinion or behavior of others through strength of argument rather than force."

As you can see all the ways to coerce are covered in the first sentence. Why fix what isn't apparently broken? He must not have understood it, otherwise I don't know why he would have replaced it with his version that was way too restrictive. (RJII) DEC 29

I spent an hour reading the Rhodes article I cited; I'm satisfied that my definition is more precise and more accurate. See specific comments above. (You probably can't access it if you're not a student or academic; I can email it if you want.) Rd232 08:22, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)
So you changed to intro to fit Rhodes. Rhodes is a "POV". I could give you other writers whose definition of coercion more closely resembles the previous. To hell with them. This isn't about them. We're supposed to be neutrual and inclusive of all common viewpoints. Apparently that's something you're not willing to do. So have at it ...advance you and your buddy, Rhodes', unenlightened POV. (RJII) DEC 30
Go on then. If the current version is so POV, provide authority to show it. I'm open to persuasion, if you'd care to try. Rd232 00:15, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)
"your buddy Rhodes". Grow up. I did a search for academic literature on coercion (www.swetswise.com) and that article was the first that came up. Rd232 00:15, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)
If you're really that unhappy about the current article, you can also ask other editors to comment, through Wikipedia:Peer Review or Wikipedia:Request for comment. Rd232 00:33, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)
See also the discussion in the Anderson ref, which is publicly available (see link in article). Rd232 11:49, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)
By the by, my definition is perfectly compatible with your priorities, if you stop to think about it. The state is still using its monopoly of the legitimate use of force to enforce laws (eg criminal law to protect citizens from illegitimate force; government monopoly), and may of course abuse that monopoly of the legitimate/legal use of force. (Possibly the distinction between legitimacy and legality needs clarifying for these instances.) Defensive force is still excluded from the coercion definition, because it doesn't threaten anyone. I've addressed your points above, so if you read that and the main article text and still disagree, I guess we should make an RFC to get some other editors to comment. Rd232 08:45, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

"because coercion is generally considered illegitimate, there is a debate whether legitimate force carried out for legitimate purposes by a just state should be described as "coercion". <-This statement is ridiculous. It says in effect, "Because coercion is considered illegitimate, there is debate whether legitimate force is coercion." There is? It sounds like you're trying to advance your POV that government force is legitimate. Why don't you let the reader decide that for himself? Either some particular force used by government fits the definition of coercion or it doesn't. Let the reader decide which forces do or don't fit the definition. If there's debate it's probably whether or not coercion is ethically justified. I disagree that there's debate going on whether the definition of coercion is "all illegitimate force." People don't don't say force is coercion because it's illegitimate force..they say it's illegitimate force because it's coercion. There is a difference. (RJII) DEC 30

OK, so it's awkward; improve it then (see also "state and coercion" section which has space to be clearer). NB the government/legitimate force connection is not my POV, it is definitional - basic political science. It is how the state is defined, as compared to, eg, the mafia, or a warlord. See also Mancur Olson's 1994 article on how robber bandits turn into states (don't have the ref to hand; think it was American Sociology Review). Rd232 00:15, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)
No thanks, it's all yours to sort out. (RJII) DEC 30

Coercion and free will[edit]

Apparently some writers think that coercion is about preventing people from having a "free will" which is bizarre and not in accordance with the general understanding of what it means for an act to be coerced. If someone threatens to kill you if you don't fulfill his request, then if you ever had free will then of course you still have it. But, what you will is probably going to change because a threat of force from another person is now a factor in making a decision on what to do. That is what constitutes the "coercion." The person is making a choice that he would not have otherwise willed if the force or threat of force was not there. RJII 22:52, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure what your point is. No-one's saying coercion removes a person's free will permanently; the argument is pointing up that free will remains even in the worst of situations; there are always choices, even if all the options are bad. Rd232 10:54, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The example of "arresting people for charging money for sex" or something similar was added, and I removed it. Tiananmen and Rodney King are examples of the state and of individual agents transgressing the boundaries of the law. Appropriateness of law (eg state-sanctioned torture; criminalising prostitution/pimping) is a separate point. If you want to add examples for the latter, it probably needs a separate paragraph to clarify the distinction, otherwise it's just confusing. Rd232 20:32, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Economic Coercion[edit]

Why is only the Marxist viewpoint of economic coercion presented? Shouldn't other views of economic coercion be presented? For example, to libertarians, taxation and economic regulations would be considered forms of economic coercion.

Edit and update" Since no one else has done so I added F.A. Hayek's definition of coercion to this section. Given that he was a libertarian economist with an opposing viewpoint I thought that it was important to add.

Much wider definition, new text[edit]

I have been bold. Even if you approve of the new content, my English should probably be polished up by some native. All edits welcome.Mario 28 June 2005 15:30 (UTC)

I think the new initial section and overview section paints an overbroad picture of coercion, out of the conventional view of it. "Any human activity that reduces the set of another person’s feasible choices" could include burning a bridge, lying, stealing, etc. Maybe we should start with the common definition of coercion ("use of threats and intimidation to influence another's behavior") and have seperate paragraphs on other definitions from other fields (legal, political thought). Just some ideas, since when I read this for the first time, I thought it was interesting, but rather confusing. The demiurge July 6, 2005 21:43 (UTC)
Please feel free to make changes you think necessary (you know my views). Having fought battles to develop the pre-radical revision version which I thought was fine (most of that material seems to have gone), I don't have the energy to make these changes. Rd232 6 July 2005 22:05 (UTC)

Lying[edit]

According to the overview, you can coerce someone by just simply lying to them (changing their "initial endowment"). But there's hardly anything in the article about lying, and the overview seems to be dismissive about that. However, lying happens regually; people lie to make people do what they want all the time. This seems like a serious problem in the article. The demiurge July 4, 2005 07:33 (UTC)

There was a definition that included fraud (stealing by deception) in the intro but looks like someone took it out. RJII 4 July 2005 14:27 (UTC)
Coercion does not conventionally include lying or deception - it rests on some threat of force either to oneself or to other people or things one holds dear. Lying and deception are certainly manipulation, but not coercion. Sometimes people may lie to you and then use coercion to try to prevent you from finding out the truth; there's a clear distinction. Rd232 4 July 2005 15:55 (UTC)
Well, then we can't have this statement: "It follows that coercion could in principle take place by purposely manipulating either the transformation rules or the initial endowment (or both)." That directly implies implies lying is coercion. The rest of that paragraph in the overview says lying isn't a reliable way to coerce people (presumably because they wouldn't always believe you), but it happens every day regardless of if it's reliable or not. The demiurge July 4, 2005 17:56 (UTC)

problem with latest definition in intro[edit]

According to the latest definition, if the choices on a restuarant menu are narrowed down to one then it's coercion, right? RJII 15:52, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

I see your point. I think the opening paragraph and overview section give much too broad a description of coercion. Maybe some schools of thought think of those type of things as coercion, but that should definately be elaborated on. The current definition is too far away from the common one to be there without explaination of who thinks that way. The demiurge 19:43, July 15, 2005 (UTC)
I notice that the definition has now again been restricted to the mere threat of force (which is the typical lawyer's POV :D). However, this appears to be in conflict with the rest of the article, where it says "However, there also are non-physical forms of coercion, where the threatened injury does not immediately imply the use of force" and then goes on to list psychological and economic coercion. I humbly suggest that the previous definition was at least consistent. Most objections to it were based on ideas (relating to initial endowment and/or "lying") that are actually already addressed in the article, if you read it carefully. Anyway, I think the current opening paragraph cannot possibly stand, on purely logical grounds. Any suggestions? --Mario 17:33, 21 July 2005 (UTC)
this is the usual definition. I wasn't ecstatic at the article expanding into other directions. Perhaps a least-cost compromise is to change the intro to "...threat of harm (usually physical force, sometimes other forms of harm)". Rd232 20:56, 21 July 2005 (UTC)
I see your point. I think your "least-cost compromise" could be fine. Go ahead with it, if you want to. By the way, since I was responsible for the "expanding into other directions", I might as well try to explain why I did it. In a nutshell, I am trying to get the definition that is actually used in some basic notions of (negative) freedom – like for instance Hayeck's. I hope you can accept that. --Mario 10:52, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Legal coercion[edit]

I see little here about coercion made possible (even encouraged) via the legal system. I don't mean by the state necessarily. I mean individuals who use the threat of lawsuits to bully people into silence, saying what thay want, etc.; especially when the victim has little money to fight it. Or plea-bargains as a form of coercion (the most blatent example I can think of is the person who plead guilty to avoid a death sentence -- the jury was about to find him not guilty. A good example of how the system does not follow 'beyond a reasonable doubt' as it says it does: even though the system did not find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and though he may be innocent, he is spending life in prison).

It seems that coercion is a common, if not the most common, tool used in western legal systems. Is there anyone who knows enough about it to add something to this article?24.64.223.203 07:05, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Mainstream Christianity[edit]

Under the subheading "Psychological effects", it says:

The opposite view was however the dominant one within what Karl Popper (1945) has called the Platonic tradition, which included among other things both mainstream Christianity and Hegel’s philosophy, with its later polar developments of Marxism and Fascism.

Does Popper place "mainstream Christianity" within the Platonic tradition? If so, it should be made clearer. If it is just opinion that mainstream Christianity is psychologically coercive, I'd remove it. Has it not always been mainstream within the church to allege that without a change in desire (will) a person cannot be saved and that therefore salvation must be voluntary? Or is the doctrine of hell coercive? If it is true, is it still coercive? Srnec 16:55, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Think of it like this; If I warn you that there is a waterfall at the end of the river, Does that make it coercion? Even if there isn't a waterfall but I THOUGHT there was one. Its still not coercion. Mainstream Christianity is trying to *warn* people, not force them to believe in the warning. Jcmcc450 (talk) 21:37, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Religious coercion[edit]

Its stated that religious coercion is a predatory coercion were the selfish entity is a supernatural one. Couldn't also be a pedagogic coercion too? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 200.55.195.217 (talk) 14:37, 9 March 2007 (UTC).

Means section (physical, psychological, economic classification system)[edit]

I am confused about this classification system. When classifying the varieties of coercion, there is indeed a relevant distinction to be made between physical and non-physical coercion.

But the further subdivision into psychological and economic coercion puzzles me, and the category of psychological coercion seems either misnamed or too broad.

Under this category of psychological coercion, only two examples are what i would describe as literal psychological coercion ('coercion of the mind'):

  1. coercive persuasion
  2. Lifton's research on 'thought reform'

The other examples in the psychological coercion section differ from these two in that they involve the threat of real tangible action (though not physical action, at least not by way of physical force aimed at the target). Here i refer to blackmail (threat to disseminate information) and the bit about plea bargaining. Although this is off the main topic, I feel it necessary to add here that i don't think the plea bargaining bit is coercion. The accused still has the freedom to choose to accept the bargain or not. This really is negotiation or bargaining, isn't it?

Also there are examples which may not fit any current category. What if the mode of leverage is not physical, mental, or economic, but one of authority over a particular area of space (this might be economic, but if so the economic coercion section should be clearer since the resources referred to are all commodities. can these resources include labor or territory?). For example, a bar patron has a discussion with a bouncer in that bar. The bouncer forces the patron to concede an argument by threatening to never let the patron in the bar again if the patron continues to argue. In which category does this belong?

Another possibly currently uncategorizable example is that of a police officer or government official who uses his authority corruptly. By choosing when to look the other way, the official can coerce action.

My proposal for reclassification:

  • physical coercion
  • nonphysical coercion
    • psychological coercion
    • economic coercion
      • information coercion (information is property or at least has value or is an economic resoure, right?) including blackmail. possibly add something here about rootkitting etc.
      • resource coercion
    • legal authority coercion

i have no formal background, so i will not be bold and attempt a rewrite before awaiting comments. if no one chimes in i plan to write something new within a week or so.

one last query: is the previous paragraph an example of coercion? is it coercion only if the reader does not want a rewrite according to the above specifications? does it deserve a separate category ('contingent coercion' or something)?

Timothy.lucas.jaeger (talk) 13:07, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Forced abortions[edit]

It would be interesting if we could have information somewhere about women who are forced to have abortions in a variety of situations. It appears to be one of the most common forms of coercion in modern society. [1] ADM (talk) 06:38, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Don't understand this sentence[edit]

Can someone either explain what this sentence means, or rephrase it please:

"The most typical example of a command system is a military organisation, which is typically called a government, but any large production team may easily fall into this category."

In particular how does "which is typically called a government" fit in with the rest of the sentence? Murray Langton (talk) 07:11, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

This article ignores academic philosophy of coercion.[edit]

Take a look at Coercion (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) for a recent summary of academic philosophical thought about coercion. Most of what I see here is just laypeople presenting vague ideas and libertarian ideology. Mhuben (talk) 13:35, 19 April 2014 (UTC)