Law and Philosophy

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 195–220 | Cite as

Mutually Beneficial Coercion: A Critique of the Coercive Approach to Distributive Justice

  • Elizabeth C. HupferEmail author


According to the coercive approach to distributive justice, the coercive nature of the political state requires justification in the form of distributive benefits owed only to members of the state (e.g., citizens). In this paper I analyze and dismiss traditional objections to the coercive approach, and I proceed to raise two novel objections. First, according to my equivocation objection, I contend that the coercive approach’s leap from coercive burdens to certain distributive benefits is based on an equivocation. When this equivocation is clarified, the conclusion of the coercive approach is undermined. Attempts to circumvent the equivocation inevitably lead to my second objection, the coercion as cooperation objection. Through this objection it becomes clear that the coercive approach collapses into the cooperative approach, an approach to distributive justice that may change the scope of distributional obligations beyond that of the political state.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religion and PhilosophyHigh Point UniversityHigh PointUSA

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