Force • Violence • Aggression

Force, violence, and aggression are often spoken about as if they are the same. They are distinct concepts in the realm of political philosophy.

Force
(Interpersonal)

Violence

Coercion

Aggression

Using one's body to affect other people The use of force Non-consensual violence or the threat of it* The initiation of coercion
Note: this is not the physics definition Can be consensual (e.g. boxing) or done in self-defense Can be rectificatory actions, e.g. to recover stolen goods Considered wrong by libertarian/voluntaryist principles (NAP)

* Includes violence substitutes, e.g. theft by stealth or fraud

Some people use Mark Passio's terminology. Here is a quick Passio to Rothbard dictionary:

force - the capacity to do work or cause physical change (physics def) → same (but not relevant to politics)

violence

violence → aggression by force

coercion → aggression

wrongdoing → aggression

causation of harm → aggression

right → non-crime (noun) or non-criminal (adj)

While Rothbardian terminology has several distinctions with respect to use of interpersonal force, as seen above, Passio does not. Passio's definitions of violence, coercion, causing harm, and wrongdoing appear to be circular. Also, Passio's definitions tend to be value-laden, e.g. "violence is the immoral initiation of physical power."

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