ADVANTAGES

Some (Blake 2001) have argued: (a) that a liberal democraticgovernment has a moral obligation to ensure respect for the humanrights of its own citizens and others alike, but only has moralobligations to ensure that its own citizens comply with principles ofdistributive justice (specifically, the (controversial) Rawlsiandifference principle), and (b) that the reason for this is that itsown citizens alone are legitimately subject to the coercive authorityof the government. The latter claim (b) is open to question (Anderson(1999)). No doubt citizens subject to the coercive authority of agovernment have a moral right to political rights, e.g. a right tovote and to stand for political office; they relinquish a degree oftheir individual autonomy in favour of a degree of jointly heldautonomy (as well as (at least) protection of their human rights, andlaw and order). However, it is difficult to see why citizens beingsubject to the coercive authority of a government (willingly or, forthat matter, unwillingly) generates a moral obligation on the part ofthe government in question to apply principles of distributivejustice—specifically, the controversial Rawlsian differenceprinciple—to the interactions among the citizens.

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