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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

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Law and the Entitlement to Coerce *

Law and the Entitlement to Coerce *

(p.183) 8 Law and the Entitlement to Coerce*
Philosophical Foundations of the Nature of Law

Robert C. Hughes

Oxford University Press

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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