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Promises Made Under Duress Still Carry Weight, According To Law Expert

By: Eleanor Hildebrandt

“Your money or your life.” While this phrase is easily recognizable as the catchphrase of a back-alley mugger, less clear is the moral responsibility of the victim when responding to the aggressor in that situation. If a victim attempts to bargain with his attacker, what value should be placed on any promises he makes while under duress?
That was the question explored by Seana Shiffrin, a professor of philosophy, and Pete Kameron, Professor of Law and Social Justice at UCLA. As part of the Clough Distinguished Lectures in Jurisprudence, Shiffrin came to Boston College on Tuesday, Oct. 16 to talk about promises made under duress and what implications for moral progress come from how such promises are viewed. She spoke for about an hour to a room of BC Law students and faculty in the East Wing of the BC Law School on Newton Campus.