Moral Coercion

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The practices of using hostages to obtain concessions and using human shields to deter aggression share an important characteristic which warrants a univocal reference to both sorts of conduct: they both involve manipulating our commitment to morality, as a means to achieving wrongful ends. I call this type of conduct “moral coercion”. In this paper I a) present an account of moral coercion by linking it to coercion more generally, b) determine whether and to what degree the coerced agent is liable for the harms resulting from acceding to moral coercion, and c) investigate factors relevant to determining whether we ought to accede to moral coercion. In so doing, I provide grounds for the intuition that we “allow evil to succeed” when we accede to moral coercion.