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