Coercion Case Study

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Frankfurt’s argument begins with delineating the distinction between the reasoning behind the moral implications of coercion and the principle of alternate possibilities. In drawing this distinction, Frankfurt seeks to beat back the argument that being unable to do otherwise is a subset of being coerced, so because coercion can exculpate a person of their oral responsibility of an action, so this is also true in the case of lacking ability to do otherwise. Frankfurt concedes that in many cases we might consider a coerced person to be morally innocent, but suggests that this may not always be the case, and that the exculpation from lack of ability to do otherwise does not follow from it. The distinction with coercion is drawn by investigating…show more content…
The first objection is that of responsibility for action versus responsibility for choice to act. In his analysis of the case of coercion, Frankfurt concedes that a person whose decision is not changed, but whose decision might have been changed if they had decided not to take an act but been coerced to, is guilty of their initial decision, rather than of the action itself. If this is the case, then it can be said that in Frankfurt’s scenario, the actor in the first case is guilty of taking the action, but the actor in the second case is guilty only of choosing to take the action, and that these two things might be morally…show more content…
In the first case, the actor chooses to take the action, so the system is not triggered, and they go on to take the action normally, and thereby receive moral blame. In the second case, the actor does not choose to take the action, so the system is triggered, and it compels them to take the action in whatever way it is designed. The problem for Frankfurt is that there is a necessary distinction between the two actions insofar as there are two different starting points: the state of an actor choosing to take an action, and the state of an actor choosing not to take an action, as well as a time delay, insofar as the system must be causally triggered by the actor. Thus, even if the system reorients reality to exactly match the first case scenario, the action must be materially different, because it was taken in a different manner. This objection is particularly important because it calls attention to an issue for the relevance of Frankfurt’s argument to the incompatibilist case. If there is a clearly distinct separation between the initial decision of the actor and the system, and there must be in order to ascribe blame in the first place, then the initial decision cannot be a part of the analogous deterministic system. In any deterministic conception of the world, it cannot be clear that the actor has actually chosen to take the action that might trigger such a
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