Coercion, it seems, like poverty and prejudice, has always been with us. Political thinkers and philosophers have been arguing its more direct and personal consequences for centuries. Today, at a point in history marked by dramatic changes and challenges to the existing military, political, and social order, coercion is more at the forefront of political activity than ever before. While the modern state has no doubt freed man from some of the forms of coercion by which he has traditionally been plagued, we hear now from all sectors of society complaints about systematic coerciveness-not only on the national and international levels, but on the individual level as well.
A general overview is provided in J. Roland Pennock's introductory chapter. Four papers that are primarily definitional and concerned with usage follow this introductory chapter. Among other issues, they raise the question whether an offer, as well as a threat, may be coercive. One of these papers maintains that it may, while two other papers are opposed to this view. The last paper in this section introduces the notion that coercion relates to the use of space, and it uses this idea to distinguish coercion from both oppression and repression. The next three papers are concerned especially with the moral aspects of the subject. Following this the next three papers discuss the problem of the avoidability of coercion followed by a contribution that deals primarily with the question of whether coercion interferes with political obligation and which it states that it does not. The final three papers deal with the role of coercion in international relations. One of the papers considers coercion by means of game theory analysis, noting that a country may influence the behavior of other countries by shaping their evaluation of the results of a specific negotiation or interaction. The second analyzes bargaining tactics, and also makes use of game theory. Lastly, the concluding papers, argue that the dynamics of national and international politics are more alike than is generally supposed.
Students and scholars in political science, philosophy, and law will find this volume a timely addition to their libraries.