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Anarchy, State, and Utopia Paperback – Nov 11 1977


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (Nov. 11 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465097200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465097203
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"...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.

Review

"...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

3.9 out of 5 stars

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson on Dec 31 2002
Format: Paperback
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 By A Customer on Jan. 2 2004
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on July 18 2008
Format: Paperback
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 wit. The spirited quality omniscient in his analyses consistently inspires whilst the skill and precision of his definitions, distinctions and diction impress throughout. He clearly derived much joy from the pursuit of philosophy.

To Nozick, the individual is sacred, self-owning and inviolable. Individuals are ends in themselves, not the means through which other individuals may attain ends. From this conviction issues the right to life, liberty and property. The first part is devoted to finding justification for the existence of the state as an agent of monopoly power.

He defends the minimal or "night watchman" state by isolating through analysis the detailed procedural matters involved in the use of force. Force is applied in reaction to crime, in order to protect rights and for settling disputes. The state is thus restricted to defending society from outside coercion, deterring & punishing force & fraud and ensuring the honoring of contracts.

Nozick then proceeds to criticize any type of state of which the power exceeds the minimal, a harmful entity that inevitably wrongs the sovereign individual.

Here he defines the entitlement theory of justice which comprises justice in acquisition (& in rectification should it be violated), holding and transfer. Briefly this means property is justified if it derives from procedures like voluntary transfer or acquisition that is just; it is a non-patterned principle. "From each as they choose, to each as they are chosen." Justice is not a passive state but a process.
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