The moral benefits of coercion: A defense of ideal statism

Politics, Philosophy and Economics (forthcoming)
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This paper contributes to recent discussions on ideal anarchism vs. ideal statism. I argue, contra ideal anarchists, that coercive state institutions would be justified even in a society populated by morally perfect individuals. My defense of ideal statism is novel in that it highlights the moral benefits of state coercion. Rather than the practical effects on individual compliance or the distributive outcomes that follow therefrom, coercive state institutions are justified through the moral benefits they provide. The state is morally beneficial because it a) lessens the demands on the will that fall on agents under ideal anarchism, and b) counters the structural domination that follows from differences in natural endowments. By shifting the focus of the debate from feasibility to desirability, the paper exposes the flaws of ideal anarchism and provides new insights into the moral value of the state.



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A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
What is the point of equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.
Utopophobia: On the Limits (If Any) of Political Philosophy.David M. Estlund - 2019 - Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

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