3.3.3 Response to Exercise


Here is a response to the argument from coercion.

It is only in an imperfect society that coercion is needed.  If the perfect society that we can imagine also had a perfectly wise government, we would gladly trust and follow its decisions, so it wouldn’t need to use coercion to govern.  Such a government would be like the conductor of an orchestra whom all the players freely follow, because they know that this will lead to the best performance for all.  In other words, it wouldn’t need coercion because people would accept its authority freely.  Therefore there would be no loss of freedom.

Here is a response to the argument from spontaneous order.

Think about a conference at which, say, a hundred people are gathering to hear lots of different lectures and to participate in various seminars.  Obviously, an event like this will work better if someone organizes the timetable and the venues, etc.  What’s needed is a person with the right abilities to do that.  This will improve the event for everyone.  A conference that relied on spontaneous order would be quite frustrating, if not a complete fiasco.  (You might have been to events that seemed exactly like that!)  The point here is simply that effective organization makes this shared activity much better than it would have been.

That is a reasonable analogy for a society overall, whether a local community, a city, or a nation (etc.).  Any society is much more complex than a conference.  It is going to be a better place to live if well qualified people do such co-ordinating and organizing tasks as are needed.  Such people are, quite simply, taking on one role among the many needed for the common good of each such society.  This is one part of what governments should do.

You might not find one or both of these responses persuasive.  Over some years, I have discussed this (hypothetical) question of whether there would be government in a perfect society with many groups of students. I have found people are often very strongly wedded to the initial answer they give, whether this is ‘no’ or ‘yes’.

This exercise isn’t meant to be a complete answer to this question, but is background for what we’ll now look at in CST.



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