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Abstract

Governments are subject to the requirements of justice, yet often seem to go above and beyond what justice requires in order to act in ways many people think are good. These kinds of acts – examples of which include putting on celebrations, providing grants to poets, and preserving historic architecture – appear to be acts of government supererogation. In this paper, I argue that a common view about the relationship between government, coercion, and justice implies that most such acts are not supererogatory, but wrong. Many will find that conclusion unattractive, but rejecting the common view that implies it raises problems, too.