American Political Science Review

Research Article

Coercion and (Global) Justice


a1 Queen's College, University of Oxford


In this article, I develop a new account of the liberal view that principles of justice (in general) are meant to justify state coercion, and consider its implications for the question of global socioeconomic justice (in particular). Although contemporary proponents of this view deny that principles of socioeconomic justice apply globally, on my newly developed account this conclusion is mistaken. I distinguish between two types of coercion, systemic and interactional, and argue that a plausible theory of global justice should contain principles justifying both. The justification of interactional coercion requires principles regulating interstate interference; that of systemic coercion requires principles of global socioeconomic justice. I argue that the proposed view not only helps us make progress in the debate on global justice, but also offers an independently compelling and systematic account of the function and conditions of applicability of justice.


I am indebted to Cécile Laborde, David Miller, Jonathan Wolff and the participants at the CSSJ seminar (Oxford University) for questions and comments, and to Clara Brandi, Bob Goodin, Robert Jubb, Tamara Jugov, Terry MacDonald, Pietro Maffettone, Terry Nardin, David Owen, Miriam Ronzoni, Henry Shue, Kai Spiekermann, Annie Stilz, and Lea Ypi for their detailed feedback on earlier versions. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the co-editors of the American Political Science Review for their constructive criticisms and suggestions. My biggest thanks go to APSR co-editor Kirstie McClure, who has been an exemplary editor for intellectual generosity, care, and attention, and to Christian List, for his patience in reading and commenting on several drafts of the article, and for his continued encouragement.