Coercion and Exploitation


in Lying, Cheating, and Stealing

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780199225804
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191708411 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Monographs on Criminal Law and Justice

Coercion and Exploitation

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  • Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law


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There are at least two ways in which the concept of coercion figures in the criminal law. One is as an excusing condition: a defendant who, under the effects of coercion or duress, commits what would otherwise be a criminal act is regarded as blameless for his act, or at least as less blameworthy than he otherwise would have been. The second is as an ‘element’ of an offense: one who unjustifiably uses coercion on another does a blameworthy act, which will, if other conditions are also met, constitute a criminal offense. This chapter focuses on the second sense of coercion: it offers a brief account of what coercion means in the sense that it occurs in crimes such as extortion and blackmail, and says something about how the concept of coercion differs from that of exploitation, and why the latter form of moral wrongfulness is less comfortably subject to criminalization than the former.

Keywords: coercion; criminal law; extortion; blackmail; exploitation

Chapter.  2571 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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