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Ethics, Economics, and PoliticsPrinciples of Public Policy$
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I. M. D. Little

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199257041

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0199257043.001.0001

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The Role of the State

The Role of the State

(p.27) 4 The Role of the State
Ethics, Economics, and Politics

Ian Malcolm David Little

Oxford University Press

Public policy requires the state to make distributional judgements, but there are moral constraints on its authority. Individuals’ rights as well as state rights have evolved through social interaction. General human rights are the corollary of wrongs, things that neither the state nor any person may do to them. The acquisition of property rights is discussed. It is concluded paradoxically that although the state has a general obligation to protect property, it also has a right to take it away from some to give to others.

Keywords:   distribution, property, restitution, rights, social contract, the state, wrongs

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