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Re: Separate trusted computing designs

From: Jonathan S. Shapiro
Subject: Re: Separate trusted computing designs
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2006 10:50:05 -0400

On Fri, 2006-09-01 at 12:00 +0200, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:

> Coercion is the act of making somebody do something that they do not
> want to do.

I agree with the intent of this, but I think it is too simple. There are
times when an unpleasant choice must be made, and it must be made now or
some greater harm will occur.

When a doctor turns to a dithering parent (or medically responsible
party), and says "You must make a decision between procedure A and B to
save the life of your child, and you must make it now" this is not
coercion. No parent wants to injure their child through inaction, but
equally, no parent wants to make this decision because they are afraid
they will be wrong.

This is not coercion. Or if it is, it is coercion concerning the
*timing* of the decision, not the nature of the decision.


I see that my earlier proposed definition is also inadequate. When we
use the term "coercion" informally, we tend to mean two things in
combination: (a) a decision is being externally forced, and (b) it is
being forced in a way that is not consistent with the interests and/or
values of the person making the decision.

The second part speaks to intent, and makes coercion a very slippery and
situationally dependent thing to define.


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