What is it about?

We need to be more careful about defining coercion so that more subtler forms can be better detected. This paper uses concepts from psychology and philosophy , such as the concepts of positive freedom and antecedents and consequences of behavior to suggest some extensions to current definitions. This includes the "false paternalism" that bypasses individual attention to achieve outcomes that primarily benefit the power holder as well as "malign neglect," in which which the interference affect the target’s ability to have self-mastery and agency but is beneficial to the coercer in some way.

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Why is it important?

At the same time that society is getting less comfortable with coercive influence, technology is enabling this influence. The taxonomy of coercion types in this paper highlights some of the subtler methods of coercion which could aid developers of ethical standards to create updated, more comprehensive guidelines.


I wrote this article with the belief that we have too narrowly defined coercion in psychology. There are many examples of coercive influence that go relatively undetected. The concept of positive freedom, meaning when individuals are able, with support, to achieve self-mastery and autonomy, is intriguing to me. I hope we begin to try to protect individual's positive freedom as much as we try to protect their negative freedom.

Sonia Goltz
Michigan Technological University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: An analysis of types and targets of coercive interference., Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, June 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/teo0000232.
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