On the Surprising Implications of Coercion Theory

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Abstract

According to much of self-labelled coercion theory, the state is both the ground of egalitarian demands of distributive justice, and the (sole) domain to which such demands apply, in virtue of its exercise of coercive power which only distributive equality can justify. This article argues
that, when properly unpacked in its theoretical commitments, coercion theory has surprising implications both within and beyond borders. Within borders, coercion is either *fully* justified by its necessity for autonomy; or it is not, in which case egalitarian distributions cannot do the trick,
either – although *political* equality might. Beyond borders, the view turns out to have significantly demanding global implications, contrary to how it is often presented. It indeed differs from global egalitarianism simpliciter, but it gives rise to an interesting, complex set of cross-border obligations
which reach far beyond the ‘global sufficiency, domestic equality’ picture. This surprising account of the implications of coercion theory rests on a crucial insight: when closely examined, the view turns out to be grounded in a natural duty of justice account of political obligation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Dec 2020

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