11th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Taylor

Isaac Taylor

Coercion, Egalitarianism, and Global Public Goods

It is commonly thought that a well-functioning state must have coercive power. A number of theorists have seen this sort of coercion as giving rise to egalitarian principles of distributive justice within a state. For some statists like Michael Blake and Thomas Nagel, this is because acts of coercion need to be justified to the coerced, and the only way of justifying state coercion to its citizens is to use it to create an egalitarian distribution among them. For republicans like Philip Pettit, it is because reducing inequality may remove unjust forms of domination which the existence of a coercive entity like the modern state invites. When these theorists turn to discussions of global distributive justice, however, they become much less concerned with inequality. This is because nothing like the coercive state exists on a global scale, and so the relevant sort of coercion is thought to be absent. A common objection to these arguments is that, although nothing like the world state exists, the relevant forms of coercion are present internationally. In this paper, instead of asking whether or not the relevant sort of coercion exists, I question whether it should do. I argue justice requires us to supply a number of important global public goods, and that this requires the creation of coercive international institutions. This will have important implications for the theories of both the statists and the republicans. Global inequalities, I will suggest, should become more of a concern for these theorists.