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Philosophical Foundations of the Nature of Law$
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Wil Waluchow and Stefan Sciaraffa

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199675517

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199675517.001.0001

Law and the Entitlement to Coerce *

Chapter:
(p.183) 8 Law and the Entitlement to Coerce*
Source:
Philosophical Foundations of the Nature of Law
Author(s):

Robert C. Hughes

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199675517.003.0009

This chapter argues that the justification of the power to make law does not entail the existence of an entitlement to use or to threaten coercion. In a society of morally very good people, there can be a justified legal system in which no public agency or private party has any entitlement to enforce law coercively. In such a society, neither the need to address good-faith disagreement nor the need to provide a coercive assurance of people's rights would justify the risk to the innocent that coercive enforcement necessarily presents. In a society of flawed human beings, governments sometimes have an entitlement to coerce, but this entitlement may be more restrictive than is commonly supposed. A coercive response to free-riding is not always required to make laws morally binding. Depending on social circumstances, the need to address unjustified law-breaking may or may not warrant exposing the innocent to risk.

Keywords:   assurance, coercion, disagreement, enforcement, free-riding, law

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