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Reconfiguring essential and discretionary public goods


Bieber, Friedemann; de Jongh, Maurits (2023). Reconfiguring essential and discretionary public goods. Economics and Philosophy:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

When is state coercion for the provision of public goods justified? And how should the social surplus of public goods be distributed? Philosophers approach these questions by distinguishing between essential and discretionary public goods. This article explains the intractability of this distinction, and presents two upshots. First, if governments provide configurations of public goods that simultaneously serve essential and discretionary purposes, the scope for justifiable complaints by honest holdouts is narrower than commonly assumed. Second, however, claims to distributive fairness in the provision of public goods also turn out to be more complex to assess.

Abstract

When is state coercion for the provision of public goods justified? And how should the social surplus of public goods be distributed? Philosophers approach these questions by distinguishing between essential and discretionary public goods. This article explains the intractability of this distinction, and presents two upshots. First, if governments provide configurations of public goods that simultaneously serve essential and discretionary purposes, the scope for justifiable complaints by honest holdouts is narrower than commonly assumed. Second, however, claims to distributive fairness in the provision of public goods also turn out to be more complex to assess.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:Public goods, essential vs. discretionary public goods, honest holdout, distributive justice, economic efficency
Language:English
Date:1 September 2023
Deposited On:04 Sep 2023 07:07
Last Modified:10 Feb 2024 04:43
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0266-2671
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266267123000329
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)