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This paper discusses cases in which defendants were coerced to do something they wanted to do anyway. Through these cases a stark divergence between the legal and philosophical discussion of alternative possibilities is highlighted. The paper seeks to vindicate the legal approach to coercion and volition by showing that the legal approach could be accounted for with an epistemic version of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, a version which is also immune to Frankfurt-type examples.
In most Common-Law jurisdictions, deceptive sexual relations are criminalized with the same offence that is used to criminalize coercive sexual relations. This trend is strongly supported by feminist scholars like Susan Estrich, who regard deceptive sexual relations as being as wrongful as coercive. Others conflate coercion and deception, going as far to consider deception to be a form of coercion. Against this trend, the present paper argues firstly that deceptive sexual relations are analytically distinct from both coercive and consensual: secondly that, to the extent that cases of deception should be criminalized, this should be done by using an offence distinct from, and less grave than, the offence applicable to coercive sexual relations. To support the latter conclusion this paper suggests a novel argument for why coercive sexual relations are more wrongful than deceptive. The coercer's conduct is more wrongful because it involves typical wrongmaking features that deception lacks: the coercer cruelly proceeds with the coercion while faced with the victim’s suffering and they dismissively disregard negative reactive attitudes such as resentment and anger that the victim forms and expresses toward them. It is then argued that this difference in wrongfulness serves as a reason for criminalizing coercion and deception in separate offences, the former graver than the latter.
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