Natural Right and Coercion

  • Ana Marta GonzálezEmail author
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 22)


What is the relationship between natural right and coercion? After an introduction aimed at clarifying the implications of the Aristotelian notion of natural right for this topic, I try to answer this question by focusing in Kant’s approach to natural right. While Kant is not usually considered a natural right thinker, I argue that his reflection on natural right retains crucial elements of the iusnaturalist tradition, and serves to the purpose of highlighting the relationship between natural right and coercion. Kant points out that natural right is not to be divided into natural and social right, but rather into natural and civil right. In this division natural right is to be identified with private right (MM, 6: 242). A significant feature of private right is that the distinction between “mine” and “thine” is not guaranteed by public laws. In the state of nature, therefore, this distinction is only a provisional one, although it can be called juridical by comparison (MM, 6: 256–7). However, since all law—hence also natural law- is inseparably linked to coercion (MM, 6: 231) how are we to justify coercion in the state of nature?


Distributive Justice Common Good External Object Political Life Civil Condition 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FilosofiaUniversidad de NavarraPamplonaSpain

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