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Abstract

I examine ways in which belief can and cannot be coerced. Belief simply cannot be coerced in a way analogous to central cases of coerced action, for it cannot be coerced by threats which serve as genuine reasons for belief. But there are two other ways in which the concept of coercion can apply to belief. Belief can be indirectly coerced by threats which serve as reasons for acting in ways designed to bring about a belief, and it can be coercively compelled by threats which non-rationally cause belief. The former is often a necessary and epistemically acceptable feature of compulsory education, but the latter produces beliefs which even if true are epistemically problematic.