Dictionary of Arguments


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Entry
Reference
Coercion Political Philosophy Gaus I 200
Coercion/Political philosophy/Morris: State power is closely associated with force, as we see from the popularity of the Weberian definition. >State/Weber. Many theorists think states are necessarily or essentially coercive. 'States are ' 'grounded" in force in the sense that, by definition, they are coercive: they coordinate behavior through the use or threat of force' (Levine, 1987(1): 176); 'State-power is in the last analysis coercive power' (Geuss, 2001(2): 12); 'political power is always coercive power backed up by the government's use of sanctions, for government alone has the authority to use force in upholding its laws' (Rawls, 1996(3): 136). The view that governments must wield force or that their power is necessarily coercive is widespread in contemporary political thought.
State/Coercion/MorrisVsWeber: The incompleteness of Weberian definitions of the state is only part of my objection to them. (>MorrisVsWeber; >State/Morris) The second concern is about understanding coercion or force to be part of the concept of the state. >Coercion/Morris.
MorrisVsRawls: Why might we think, with Rawls, that 'political power is always coercive power backed up by the government's use of sanctions'? Perhaps because of the conjunction of law and sanction. But that connection is not necessary. Some laws are not enforced by sanctions (for instance, laws governing the obligations of officials, laws establishing powers, constitutional laws). Attempts to understand the law in terms of the coercive commands of a sovereign are implausible (see Austin, 1885(4), for the classic formulation of this position; and Hart, 1994(5), for the classic refutation). >Command/Hart.


1. Levine, Andrew (1987) The End of the State. London: Verso.
2. Geuss, Raymond (2001) History and Illusion in Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
3. Rawls, John (1996) Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.
4. Austin, John (1995 t 18851) The Province of Jurisprudence Determined. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
5. Hart, H. L. A. (1994) The Concept of Law, 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Morris, Christopher W. 2004. „The Modern State“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004
Legitimacy Morris Gaus I 202
Legitimacy/Morris: suppose that some states - those that serve our interests, that behave justly, and so on - are such that they are justified and that they are thereby legitimated. Do they then possess all of the normative powers they claim? We need to investigate legitimacy. When are states legitimate? What is the basis of their legitimacy? And what exactly does legitimacy entail? 'Legitimacy' is derived from lex and has the same root as 'legislation'. One sense of 'legitimate'
is being in accordance with law or lawful (legality). Any lawful or 'legal' state is legitimate in this
sense. Closely related would be the more general notion of being in accordance with the established rules or procedures relevant to the matter at issue (e.g. a legitimate move in chess, the legitimate heir to the throne). These senses of 'legitimate', largely procedural and similar to the primary sense of 'legal' (being in accordance with the law), are not very useful for our normative inquiry.
Problems: often in politics and especially international affairs a state is thought to be legitimate if it is recognized or accepted by others. There is considerable unclarity as to what this means. Sometimes the suggestion seems to be merely that a legitimate state is a genuine state. Legitimacy in this sense is uninteresting. Sometimes the idea of acceptance or recognition suggests that being a legitimate state requires being so recognized by other states, as if legitimacy were a kind of membership in an organization or club. Even if the members of this club are not all corrupt, this notion also seems uninteresting. The question is what conditions ought to be imposed for membership.
Social scineces/Weber: in the social sciences, accounts derived from Weber would have us understand the state's legitimacy in terms of the attitudes of subjects.
MorrisVsWeber: the crudest would say that a state is legitimate in so far as it is so regarded by its subjects, which is not very illuminating until we understand what it is for someone so to regard a state.
State: What is it then for a state to be legitimate in a more substantive sense? If a state is legitimate it has a certain status. At the least, its existence is permissible. It may also have a (claim-)right to exist. >State/Morris.
Solution: a legitimate state, we shall say, is minimally one which has a liberty, presumably a
(claim-)right, to exist. It would presumably also possess the liberty or the right to establish laws and to adjudicate and enforce these as necessary for the maintenance of order and other ends. Legitimacy in this minimal sense would be the right to exist and to rule. >Obedience/Morris.
Legitimacy, strong and weak: it is useful at this point to distinguish weaker and stronger conceptions of legitimacy. A legitimate state possesses a (claim-)right to exist and to rule.
The right to exist entails obligations on the part of others not to threaten its existence in certain
ways (e.g. not to attack or to conquer it).
a) a state is
Gaus I 203
minimally legitimate, I shall say, if its right to rule entails that others are obligated not to undermine it but are not necessarily obligated to obey it. 2) by contrast, a state is fully legitimate if its right to rule entails an obligation of subjects, or at least citizens, to obey (each valid law). This obligation may be thought of as a general obligation to obey the law, one which requires compliance with every law that applies to one except in circumstances indicated by the law (e.g. justified or excused disobedience).*
Minimal legitimacy: What establishes minimal legitimacy? Suppose a state to be just.** That is, suppose that it respects the constraints of justice and does not act unjustly. In addition, suppose that it provides justice to those subject to its rule; it makes and enforces laws, adjudicates disputes, and provides mechanisms for collective decisions (e.g. contracts, corporate law,
local governments, parliaments). Some of the laws as well as a number of social programmes seek to effect distributive justice (...).Government in general is responsive to the just interests or wishes of the governed. A state like this would be just. Suppose in addition that it is relatively efficient in its activities. (Morris, 1998(5): chs 4 and 6). >Justice/Morris, >Justification/Morris, >Natural justice/Political philosophy.


* 'A state's legitimacy is its exclusive right to impose new duties on subjects by initiating legally binding directives, to have those directives obeyed, and to coerce noncompliers' (Simmons, 1999(1): 137). '"Justifying the state" is normally thought to mean showing that there are umversal obligations to obey the law... [T]he goal of justification of the state is to show that, in principle, everyone within its territories is morally bound to follow its laws and edicts' (Wolff, 1996(2): 42).

** 'Without justice, what are kingdoms but great robber bands?' (Augustine, 1984(3): 30). 'Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought' Rawls, 1971(4): 3).

1. Simmons, A. John (1999) 'Justification and legitimacy'. In his Justification and Legitimacy: Essays on Rights and Obligations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 122-57.
2. Wolff, Jonathan (1996) An Introduction to Political Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
3. Augustine (1994 [1425]) Political Writings, eds E. Fortin and D. Kries, trans. M. Tracz and D. Kries. Indianapolis: Hackett.
4. Rawls, John (1971) A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
5. Morris, Christopher W. (1998) An Essay on the Modern State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Morris, Christopher W. 2004. „The Modern State“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004
State (Polity) Weber Gaus I 195
State/Weber/Morris: [a „definition“ of the state most often is] an abbreviated version of Max Weber's well-known characterization of the state as 'a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory' (1919(1): 78). Weber says that 'the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the "right" to use violence. '
MorrisVsWeber: This oft-cited definition, however, is problematic for a number of reasons.
The first thing to note about it now is its simplicity.
Gaus I 196
Could an organized criminal organization or one of Nozick's protective agencies be a state? Weber: Elsewhere [Weber] offered a much more complete characterization: „Since the concept of the state has only in modern times reached its full development, it is best to define it in
terms appropriate to the modern type of state, but at the same time, in terms which abstract from the values of the present day, since these are particularly subject to change. The primary formal characteristics of the modern state are as follows: It possesses an administrative and legal order subject to change by legislation, to which the organized corporate activity of the administrative staff, which is also regulated by legislation, is oriented. This system of order claims binding authority, not only over the members of the state, the citizens . but also to a very large extent, over all actions taking place in the area of its jurisdiction. It is thus a compulsory association with a territorial basis. Furthermore, today, the use of force is regarded as legitimate only so far as it is either permitted by the state or prescribed by it.“ (1947(2): 156)
Morris: A number of additional features or attributes are singled out by Weber in this passage: the existence of an administrative and legal order subject to change by legislation, maintained by a substantial administrative staff, itself regulated by legislation (...). >State/Morris.


1. Weber, Max (1946 [1919]) 'Politics as a vocation'. In From Max Weber: Essays in Sociologv, eds and trans. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. New York: Oxford University Press.
2. Weber, Max (1947) The Theory of Social and Economic O,'ganization (Part I of Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft), trans. A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons. New York: Oxford University Press.

Morris, Christopher W. 2004. „The Modern State“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications

Weber I
M. Weber
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism - engl. trnsl. 1930
German Edition:
Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus München 2013


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