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Anarchy State and Utopia Paperback – March 23, 2001
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"...complex, sophisticated and ingenious." Economist
Top Customer Reviews
This is a work of genius, though it is frequently misunderstood, perhaps on purpose. Most readers, including important philosophers like Thomas Nagel, simply misunderstand the argumentative structure, with the result that many famous criticisms of the book are irrelevant.
Nozick's thesis is that a minimal state can be justified, but a more than minimal state cannot, except under unusual situations.
Part I of the book is addressed to other libertarians, specifically market anarchists (also called anarcho-capitalists). As such, Nozick assumes libertarian rights of self-ownership (or self-governance). Basically, Nozick wants to show market anarchists that a minimal state can arise without violating anybody's rights, where the rights in question are things that all parties to the debate agree that we have. To do so, he describes a scenario in which security companies come inevitably to have natural monopolies over geographic areas. After providing a highly original analysis of the nature of risk and its moral implications, plus a hugely important discussion of side constraints and moral prohibitions, Nozick establishes that such a monopoly would legitimately prohibit other security firms and independent enforcers from operating in its area, provided it compensates everyone involved. The most natural form of compensation is free security. Nozick then argues that an equilibrium will occur in which the security of all can be provided for with an analogue of coercive taxation.Read more ›
If you find that you agree with the arguments and conclusions of Robert Nozick, you will be enriched with ammunition for debating political philosophy. If you DON'T agree and you believe that your disagreement is based upon sound philosophy, you will still be greatly rewarded - if for no other reason than you were required to expend some great effort to refute the presented material as you read it.
The major principles presented and defended by Mr. Nozick are as follows:
1) Anarchy is not tenable. 2) A "minimal state" or "nightwatchman state" that only protects the rights of its constituents is justified/legitimate. 3) any state beyond that "minimal state" is unjustified/illegitimate because it will inherently violate the rights of (at least) some of its constituents.
Beyond these major principles, Mr. Nozick also revisits the concept of Utopia in the last section of the text. I found this last section very enjoyable. Mr. Nozick's presentation of the concept of "Meta-Utopia" opened up whole new avenues of political thought for me.
I agree with the major principles of this work as I have stated them above; however, I found that I did not agree with everything presented.Read more ›
In the first chapter, the author asks the reader to consider what he calls the "state-of-nature theory". This (Lockean) notion, although archaic in the author's view, allows one to answer whether a state would have to be invented if it did not exist, this being a classical question in liberal political philosophy. The chapter is a detailed justification for pursuing the state-of-nature theory. He holds to the premise that one can only understand the political realm by explaining it in terms of the nonpolitical. He thus begins with the Lockean state of nature concept and uses it to build a justification for the state in the rest of the book.
Most of the discussion in part 1 of the book revolves around the "dominant protective association" in a given geographical area. The author then builds on this in an attempt to justify from a moral perspective "the minimal state".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was suggested to me by 5 different sources, e.g. FEE.org, StudentsForLiberty.org, and LibertyFund.org, etc. Read morePublished 8 days ago by WiTeBoi
A brief review cannot do justice to this book, but it could easily do it injustice. Here I can only raise a few of the many ideas worth examining. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Steven R. Bayne
Nozick explains in clear and insightful ways for a libertarian view that ennobles the individual, but at the same time maintaining an appropriate role for the state. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kathleen A Baron
Some of the worst writing and nonsense I have attempted to try and read in awhile. Could not even get through it. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Verified Amazon Customer