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Coercion, Incarceration, and Chemical Castration: An Argument From Autonomy

Authors
  • Douglas, Thomas1
  • Bonte, Pieter2
  • Focquaert, Farah2
  • Devolder, Katrien2
  • Sterckx, Sigrid2, 3
  • 1 University of Oxford, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Faculty of Philosophy, Littlegate House, St. Ebbes Street, Oxford, OX1 1PT, United Kingdom , Oxford (United Kingdom)
  • 2 Ghent University, Bioethics Institute Ghent, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Blandijnberg 2, Ghent, 9000, Belgium , Ghent (Belgium)
  • 3 Vrije Universiteit, Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Brussels, Belgium , Brussels (Belgium)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Bioethical Inquiry
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Jun 29, 2013
Volume
10
Issue
3
Pages
393–405
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11673-013-9465-4
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

In several jurisdictions, sex offenders may be offered chemical castration as an alternative to further incarceration. In some, agreement to chemical castration may be made a formal condition of parole or release. In others, refusal to undergo chemical castration can increase the likelihood of further incarceration though no formal link is made between the two. Offering chemical castration as an alternative to further incarceration is often said to be partially coercive, thus rendering the offender’s consent invalid. The dominant response to this objection has been to argue that any coercion present in such cases is compatible with valid consent. In this article, we take a different tack, arguing that, even if consent would not be valid, offering chemical castration will often be supported by the very considerations that underpin concerns about consent: considerations of autonomy. This is because offering chemical castration will often increase the offender’s autonomy, both at the time the offer is made and in the future.

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