Front Page Titles (by Subject) Threats vs. Offers - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
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Threats vs. Offers - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Threats vs. Offers
“Threats, Offers, Law, Opinion and Liberty.” American Philosophical Quarterly 14 (October 1977): 257–272.
Do either threats or offers curtail liberty? We may conclude that threats do, but offers do not.
Threats curtail an individual's liberty “by making him unable to do something which he can unconditionally now do.” Offers, on the other hand, do not similarly deprive the individual. The threat “Your money or your life” informs a person that he will not be able to retain both the prosperity and the vitality that he presently enjoys. It curtails liberty because it makes a person, by anticipation, unable to do something which he now can do, namely, possess both his money and his life. Contrariwise, an offer presents an alternative to a present enjoyment, not a forced deprivation of it.
When is an individual deprived of freedom? We might define such deprivation by one party (Peter) of another (Paul) as: “Peter making Paul irretrievably unable to do X by doing Y to Paul,” as when Peter makes Paul unable to travel to London by imprisoning him. An offer, however, does not render an individual irretrievably unable to retain his current status; consequently, an offer does not curtail liberty. Liberty, then, should not be confused with volition or ability.
Neither the absence of human volition because of brain damage nor the absence of the ability to walk because of paralysis diminish liberty, which is essentially diminished only through interpersonal causes.
The reason why threats curtail liberty is now clear. A threat, typically made to induce a recalcitrant victim to behave in a certain way, will (a) very probably be carried out and, therefore, (b) makes the person threatened (about to be) unable to keep what had been conditionally his before the threat. Threats thereby limit a person's freedom of action.
The delineation of liberty significantly excludes varieties of “positive freedom” (ability) as authentic types of liberty. Furthermore, this notion of liberty includes within the definition of coercion threats of physical compulsion as well as actual physical compulsion.