A normative foundation for statism

Patrick Taylor Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)


Cosmopolitans have argued that coercive statism–the view that egalitarian distributive obligations only exist between co-citizens–is under-motivated. Conversely, republican theorists have argued that the state should remain a primary focus of global justice, relying only upon contingent features of states and the global order. This paper argues for an understanding of freedom as non-domination that grounds both coercive statism and the republican primacy of sovereign states in accounts of global justice. It argues that distributive equality–both political and economic–are uniquely triggered by membership in a state-like polity due to the necessarily unmediated and direct nature of sovereign political authority. Distributive equality is, according to this account, constitutive of freedom in the face of a particular kind of coercive political power. This offers a response to cosmopolitans by showing that distributive equality is a necessary feature of justified state power and undergirds the republican position by showing that the global order is a secondary site of distributive justice. That is, the global order ought to maintain interstate non-domination and help states with domestic equality but need not aim at global political and economic equality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-553
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number4
Early online date21 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2021


  • Global justice
  • international relations
  • non-domination
  • political philosophy
  • republicanism
  • cosmopolitanism
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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