Contrastive Consent and Third-Party Coercion

David Enoch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


If Badguy threatens Goodguy with harm, and Goodguy consents to giving his money to Badguy (to avoid the harm), Goodguy’s consent is invalid because coerced. But if under Badguy’s coercive threat Goodguy proceeds to consent to paying someone else (or to hiring a bodyguard), the consent may very well be valid. The challenge is to explain this difference. In this paper I argue that the way forward is to recognize that the content of consent is contrastive – one doesn’t just agree to giving the money; rather, one consents to giving-the-money-rather-than-some-alternative. And then the normative upshot of the relevant consent depends on what the morally relevant contrast is, which in turn depends on who is (before the relevant interaction) entitled to what against whom. We have, I think, independent reasons to understand consent contrastively, and once we do, we can solve the puzzle of third party coercion with ease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalPhilosophers Imprint
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 David Enoch.


  • Coercion
  • Consent
  • Contrastive Consent
  • Third-Party Coercion


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