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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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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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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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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 appeared originally on the Liberator Online September 11, 2001:
Robert Nozick (1939-2002) is one of the most respected and honored philosophers in the world.
In 1974, Nozick -- then a largely unknown thirty-five-year-old professor of philosophy at Harvard -- published Anarchy, State, and Utopia. The book startled and amazed reviewers, reached a huge audience, and immediately established Nozick's reputation as a major new figure in philosophy -- in fact, as an international intellectual celebrity.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia was a rigorous examination and defense of libertarianism. It was controversial, exciting, and -- most shockingly for a serious philosophical work -- a pleasure to read. And it is hard to overstate the book's importance to libertarianism.
As Laissez Faire Books editor Roy Childs wrote in 1989:
"Nozick's 'Anarchy, State, and Utopia' single-handedly established the legitimacy of libertarianism as a political theory in the world of academia. Indeed, it is not too much to say that without Nozick's book, there might not be a vital and growing academic libertarian movement today, making its way from university to university, from discipline to discipline, from nation to nation."
So it was all the more shocking (and tragic for libertarianism) when, in his 1989 book "The Examined Life," Nozick hinted he had rejected the libertarian philosophy he presented so brilliantly in "Anarchy, State and Utopia." Rumors begin flying that Nozick had abandoned libertarianism. Some even said he had embraced socialism!
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I could not finish this book. There were too ...
I could not finish this book. There were too many assumptions within it that had me questioning the ideas presented. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Eugene Balfour
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Genius
Anarchy, State, and Utopia is the most creative work in defense of right-libertarianism that has ever been written. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Pepper
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 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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