Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Right Against Coercion - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
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The Right Against Coercion - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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The Right Against Coercion
“Natural and Contractual Rights.” Ethics 87 (January 1977): 153–159
If there are any contractual rights (i.e., rights to the fulfillment of promises or contracts) then there exists at least one natural right: the natural right against being coerced. To avoid being coercive, all valid obligations must derive from consent, as in a voluntary contract.
The meaning of coercion invoked is: to render a person's action involuntary by constraint or deceit. Threats and offers that result in a person's doing something are distinct from this narrow meaning of coercion. Threats, in turn, differ from offers by “derivatively” coercing a person; that is, by creating the prospect that one will suffer “primary” coercion unless one performs an action.
The specific wrong of breaking contracts or promises is that of violating a natural right against inflicting coercion on a person. Furthermore, if there is the natural right protecting one against coercion, then strictly speaking there are no “positive” natural rights. “Positive” rights mean enforceable claims to have others perform certain actions. “Negative” rights, on the other hand, are claims that prevent others from performing certain coercive actions. If Virginia were to have a “positive” natural right requiring John to provide her with a minimum standard of living, then supposedly John could violate this right noncoercively by simply doing nothing (with regard to Virginia's income). This reasoning entails the inconsistency of simultaneously justifying and forbidding coercion against John.
This account of contractual rights thus denies that there are any positive natural rights or unchosen obligations. In the absence of special relationships persons have only negative obligations of noncoercion to others. Positive obligations arise only from voluntarily entering into contracts which agree upon such obligations.
Thus, contractual rights and obligations arise from the moral demand not to violate the natural right against coercion. These obligations are voluntarily chosen by the persons entering into the contract. Within this contractual, voluntary context omissions to carry out any provision are coercive. Contractual rights, however, flow from natural rights as specific exemplifications. Just as natural rights forbid coercion, so in the special case of a mutually agreed upon contract, a violation of such a contract involves coercion.