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Anarchy, State, and Utopia [Paperback]

Robert Nozick
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 11 1977 0465097200 978-0465097203
In this brilliant and widely acclaimed book, winner of the 1975 National Book Award, Robert Nozick challenges the most commonly held political and social positions of our age—liberal, socialist, and conservative.

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"...This book is the best piece of sustained analytical argument in political philosophy to have appeared for a very long time." Mind "...complex, sophisticated and ingenious." Economist --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"...This book is the best piece of sustained analytical argument in political philosophy to have appeared for a very long time." Mind

"...complex, sophisticated and ingenious." Economist --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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IF the state did not exist would it be necessary to invent it? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Property Rights Absolutist Jan. 2 2004
By A Customer
Anarchy, State, and Utopia was published in the 1970s on the eve of Reaganism and Thatcherism. As the first libertarian treatise written by an analytic philosopher at a major university, it caused a sensation as much because of its novelty as because of its arguments. It's a hard book to characterize. On the one hand, many sections sparkle with brilliance and humor, and the text is filled with ingenious arguments. Unfortunately, ASU is also badly organized and occasionally unreadable. The analysis is abstract and technical, with few references to classical political thinkers (except for Locke) and little discussion of real-world political institutions. But whatever its merits or demerits, ASU has entered the canon of modern political theory.
Part 1 (Anarchy) argues against anarchism by showing how a "nightwatchman" government could emerge from the state of nature without anyone's rights being violated. This section, unfortunately, is packed with unreadable digressions. My advice to readers who already believe that government has a legitimate role -- and who already believe that stateless societies like Afghanistan or Somalia would be bad places to live in -- is to skim this section. However, the discussion of vegetariansim is interesting and The Experience Machine is one of the great thought experiments of modern philosophy.
Part 2 (State) is the heart of the book. Here Nozick attempts to show that no state more extensive than the "nightwatchman" state can be justified. He defends an "entitlement" theory of justice, which holds that any distribution of assets, no matter how unequal, is just so long as it arises through a process that violates no one's rights (and thus "entitles" the owners to hold their assets against all claims).
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2.0 out of 5 stars I could not finish this book. There were too ... July 7 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I could not finish this book. There were too many assumptions within it that had me questioning the ideas presented. I find the works of Mises, Rothbard and Hoppe to be more grounded in logic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Genius June 6 2014
By Pepper
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anarchy, State, and Utopia is the most creative work in defense of right-libertarianism that has ever been written. It is unfortunate that much of the secondary literature is uncharitable or misreads Nozick's arguments, for they are actually more subtle and effective than people may believe at first glance.

If you take the time to look through every footnote, you'll realize that Nozick already knows all the objections and solutions, but leaves the reader to figure it out for themselves. He challenges the reader enormously, and he probably knew that there was no point in responding to critics who simply misunderstood his work.

This book should only be read by those with a background in philosophy; it will be confusing and labyrinthine to anyone else.

There are other good libertarianism books out now (like Michael Huemer's Problem of Political Authority), but those are just cogent and intelligent. Nozick is a higher caliber level philosopher (look at his other works, especially in Philosophical Explanations) and is a *genius*. ASU is written by a special and *brilliant* mind, and must be appreciated slowly.

The first time you read it (if you make it through) you might not be so impressed. But the more you learn elsewhere, turn back to ASU, and notice how much deeper your understanding becomes each time. You need incredible knowledge to even begin appreciating and truly understanding what is said here by Robert Nozick.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It has done its job...brilliantly Dec 31 2002
This book is one of the most unusual in the history of political philosophy, and perhaps one of most brilliant. The author's ideas are thought-provoking and highly original, and he asks the reader to consider arguments, rather than engaging in a "diatribe to convince" (my words here). The author creates a reading atmosphere of intellectual honesty, and this helps to soften the possible uneasiness that some readers might feel in encountering these kinds of arguments for the first time. Some may seem radical and unpalatable for readers of other political persuasions, but any reader who is open to new ideas should find the reading highly interesting. The political philosophy of libertarianism finds its best apology here, but the contents of the book, and the method of presentation will and has found application to other political philosophies, and to legal philosophy.
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".
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Vive l'anarchie, l'etat et l'Ethiopia!
Nozick's trenchant arguments for freedom emanate from moral conviction rather than economic theory. Life affirming to the core, they are framed in a delightful style leavened with... Read more
Published on July 18 2008 by Pieter Uys
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't beleive the hype, Nozick is still a Libertarian...
To refute the propoganda that was written about Nozick by reveiwer Roger Albin, that Nozick is no longer a Libertarian, here is a an interview with Nozick in an article that... Read more
Published on May 20 2004 by Andrew Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Libertarian, or Property-tarian?
Robert Nozick argues from the (Kantian) principle that nothing and nobody can use an individual as a means rather than an end. Read more
Published on May 12 2004 by C. SKALA
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Defense of Libertarianism
Nozick's classic is an outstanding book. One of its great virtues is its accessibility to the intelligent layman. Read more
Published on March 21 2004 by Greg Feirman
3.0 out of 5 stars very overrated.
_Anarchy, State, and Utopia_ is considered a libertarian classic, but while it is interesting to read, its value is somewhat marginalized by lack of substance. Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2004 by Lord Chimp
3.0 out of 5 stars Locke's Apostle
The essence of Nozick's theory is that the justification for property historical, namely, whether it is acquired or transfered in accordance with moral princples, not an end-state... Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A better introduction to the "minimal state" than Ayn Rand
Nozick's book is lucid, readable, and non-polemical. Even better, he's not out to start a personality cult around himself. Read more
Published on March 3 2003 by Kevin Bold
1.0 out of 5 stars The angels dance
Towards the middle of this book, Professor Nozick declares: "Whatever arises from a just situation by just steps is itself just." This is, perhaps, the key idea of his book. Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2003 by Clifford Story
2.0 out of 5 stars Very academic, very poorly presented
Nozick may or may not be a genius. I'll never know. Why will I never know? Because the man has no ability to actually convey a thought in a method of communication that I find easy... Read more
Published on May 15 2002 by Norm Zurawski
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