The Coercion View of Global Distributive Justice and Why it Fails
On the coercion view of global distributive justice the concern for the relative welfare of agents arises only within a framework that is coercively imposed upon them. Anthony Blake argues that the egalitarian distribution of goods is only required in a coercively established system as a way of compensating for the invasion of individual autonomy by that system. Since the global order does not invade the autonomy in the same way the state does, its actions do not call for distributive compensation, except for the basic minimum needed to secure the conditions of autonomy. I argue against this view. Global coercion is not relevantly different from the state coercion: border law impinges upon autonomy of those excluded from a given territory and has a profound effect on their life prospects. Similar compulsion exists in the economic sphere: the global economic order is not a world composed entirely of voluntary contracts stemming from self-interest. Citizens of various states are therefore heavily involved in the coercive nexus governed by the transnational bodies. The more fundamental objection I advance, however, is that coercion is not a necessary condition for the claims to distributive justice to arise. Blake’s argument proves neither that where there is coercion, there must be distributive justice nor that where there is distributive justice, there must be coercion.