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Gerald F. Gaus on Minimal State - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 120
Minimal State/Gauss/Mack: (...) the minimal state [is a] monopolistic agency legitimately employing force and the threat of force solely to protect people’s lives, limbs, liberties, estates, and contractual rights against both internal and external threats. This minimal state achieves the protection of these rightful claims only in ways that are themselves respectful of people’s rightful claims. The effective enforcement of these claims is taken to secure the background conditions out of which mutually beneficial and valued social and economic order is most likely and most extensively to emerge through individuals’ own, well-motivated exercise of their protected liberties.
Protection/funds: According to its own champions, the minimal state is subject to the same moral strictures that apply to all of us. If it would be criminal for any one of us to seize funds from another, even if that first party proceeded to employ those funds to provide the second party with protection against third parties, then it will also be criminal for the minimal state to seize funds from any of us even if it proceeds to employ those funds to provide us with protection against (other) internal or external threats.
Liberty/individuals: How, consistent with unreconstructed liberty norms, could the minimal state acquire the resources necessary to finance the services it supplies? The key to the minimal statist’s answer is that individuals do not have original (pre-contractual) moral claims to the various forms of protection that the state proposes to provide. Whereas individuals have original moral claims not to be interfered with or harmed by others in certain ways, individuals do
Gaus I 121
not have original moral claims that other agents protect them against those interferences or harms. >Individuals/Minimal state, >Taxation/Minimal state.
Gaus I 122
Social goods: How great will be the doctrinal cost of [a] weakening of liberty tradition norms? (>Social goods/Minmall state). We can identify three approaches to justification: (1) that coercive public goods provision is fully consistent with the basic commitments of the liberty tradition; (2) that the goods at stake justify overriding liberty; and (3) that such provision is benign paternalism.


Mack, Eric and Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism: The Liberty Tradition.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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