BACKGROUND: At the level of Liberty, a coerced confession is a legal issue. A su
BACKGROUND: At the level of Liberty, a coerced confession is a legal issue. A suspect was under: 1) psychological pressure that interfered with their decision-making or 2) physical pressure that forced them to make a decision they did not want to make. But at a deeper level, a coerced confession is a moral problem. Even if there was no psychological or physical interreference with what they want to do, there may have been an earlier force that interfered with their sense of self -- with their identity. I will refer to this as coercion at the "level of identity." At this level, coercion extends beyond the legal system. Here is a silly example: LA Dodgers Silhouette When a Dodgers fan goes to a Dodgers game, we assume the fan acted freely because that action is consistent with the fan's identity. It's what a Dodgers fan does. This doesn't seem controversial, but this type of reasoning can make people vulnerable to coercion. Here’s how: If we want someone who is not a Dodger's fan to go to a Dodger's game, we don’t have to kidnap them – we just need to make them into a Dodgers fan. If you succeed in imposing an identity, then you make identity-based actions appear to be freely chosen. They appear to be freely chosen because the coercive force conditions their WANTS. What we want is based on who we understand ourselves to be. Now here is a serious example: Racism tells a person that they are less than equal. This coercive force might cause people of color to make decisions that reflect this false sense of self. For example, they might not assert their equality -- or they might assert their equality in risky ways. (Think of incarcerated people whose crime was a reaction to being "disrespected.") Think, too, of the coercive forces of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. These can affect whether we choose to assert our (real or imposed) identities. And, if we do, they can affect how much we're willing to risk for that. ASSIGNMENT: In an essay of 3 full pages, typed and double-spaced in 12-point font, please: 1. Find or create a story of a person who is doing what they want . . . but doing so from a false sense of self. (By a 'false sense of self,' I mean a sense that they are not morally equal to everyone else). 2. Identify the possibly coercive force(s) involved in the construction of that false sense of self. 3. Argue for or against the idea that this person owes themselves an equal level of respect based on their moral equality. 4. Argue for or against the idea that Liberty is valuable only when it is based on Dignity. This means that it is not enough that a person does what they want -- they must also want no less than equality for themselves.

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