[extropy-chat] "Hierarchical power is out"

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Dec 25 16:57:01 UTC 2006

Samantha writes

>> "Coercion is the practice of compelling a person to involuntarily behave
>> in a certain way (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats,
>> intimidation <UL> or </UL> some other form of pressure or force....

Underlining added by me  :-)

>> My concern, and the reason I don't like to use the word, is that it
>> fails when extended.  For example, suppose five individual farmers
>> operate within a small town, all using traditional farming methods for
>> many years, but recent developments in agricultural technology now offer
>> greater productivity at lower cost.  If four of the five farmers adopt
>> the new technology, but the fifth resists due to, say, religious
>> beliefs, then it's likely that he would lose his livelihood due to being
>> unable to effectively compete.  In such a case, is he being coerced?
> Of course not. The wikipedia definition is faulty. Coercion is using
> force or fraud to override a person's right to make their own decision
> and follow it.

And just why shouldn't "coercion" be available to describe any
sort of pressure or effect at all?  Isn't one's house coerced into
collapsing because of the hurricane's winds?  Aren't prisoners
in the Sudan coerced into dying by the bullets penetrating their
skins?  And even if the farmer were to fail to adopt the new
technology because of his own feelings of unworthiness, well,
weren't those feelings *caused* in the first place by the advent
of new technology over which he played no part and in which
his voice was not heard?

I really don't understand why you resist these more perceptive
and broader applications of the concept---surely we mustn't 
restrict our concepts and vocabulary to only the most banal
and blatant examples of a phenomenon! On the contrary, as
a fundamental principle of abductive nonmonotonic reasoning,
to resist instead coercion by oppressive binary oppositions and
dichotomies (cf. aktuelisace) can only be liberating!


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