Anarchy, State, and Utopia

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Basic Books, 1974 - Political Science - 367 pages
9 Reviews
Winner of the 1975 National Book Award, this brilliant and widely acclaimed book is a powerful philosophical challenge to the most widely held political and social positions of our age--liberal, socialist, and conservative.
 

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In short, this book is significant but poorly argued and structured. It operates largely on the assumption that certain models of transaction will strike us as "intuitively" unethical. Which is to say, he side-steps the toughest job in ethics, which is to genuinely persuade a person to make a certain decision and just assumes we already will. In other words, he offers almost no argument at all.
The book is also poorly structured and reads more like a collection of essays and short stories than a thesis. It makes the point muddled and definitions get mixed up and vague. Add to this the increasing obscurity of his prose (guided by his formal logic background) and the book becomes almost unreadable.
The book is worth reading if you have an interest in the history of modern political writing. It is structured largely as a response to the far superior "Theory of Justice" by Rawls. It's important for a few reasons, then. First, it is something that has captured a section of the population's attention as of late. It's always valuable to understand the roots of current political movements. Second, it does provide a few significant and memorable challenges to Rawls' view. Though it is disjointed and poorly constructed, it does provide a few brilliant insights on Rawls' assumptions about people and their relationship to property etc. Finally, it is the best construction of this political model I've ever found. His ontology is far far more sensible than anything the pseudo-philosopher Ayn Rand rolled out.
Nozick himself was a respectable and brilliant philosopher when he was doing formal logic or epistemology. However, he really cannot do political philosophy worth a damn. Rumour has it that in his later years, he actually came to distance himself from this effort. It is historically significant, and provides some insight, but the book itself is a confusing, fallacious and lazy account of the state.
 

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A classic work of genius!

Contents

Why StateofNature Theory ?
3
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
4
EXPLANATORY POLITICAL THEORY
6
The State of Nature
10
PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATIONS
12
THE DOMINANT PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION
15
INVISIBLEHAND EXPLANATIONS
18
IS THE DOMINANT PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION A STATE?
22
PATTERNING
155
HOW LIBERTY UPSETS PATTERNS
160
SENS ARGUMENT
164
REDISTRIBUTION AND PROPERTY RIGHTS
167
LOCKES THEORY OF ACQUISITION
174
THE PROVISO
178
TERMS OF COOPERATION AND THE DIFFERENCE PRINCIPLE
189
THE ORIGINAL POSITION AND ENDRESULT PRINCIPLES
198

Moral Constraints and the State
26
MORAL CONSTRAINTS AND MORAL GOALS
28
WHY SIDE CONSTRAINTS?
30
LIBERTARIAN CONSTRAINTS
33
CONSTRAINTS AND ANIMALS
35
THE EXPERIENCE MACHINE
42
UNDERDETERMINATION OF MORAL THEORY
45
WHAT ARE CONSTRAINTS BASED UPON?
48
THE INDIVIDUALIST ANARCHIST
51
Prohibition Compensation and Risk
54
PROHIBITION AND COMPENSATIONWhy StateofNature Theory ?
57
WHY EVER PROHIBIT?Why StateofNature Theory ?
58
RETRIBUTIVE AND DETERRENCE THEORIES OF PUNISHMENT
59
DIVIDING THE BENEFITS OF EXCHANGE
63
FEAR AND PROHIBITION
65
WHY NOT ALWAYS PROHIBIT?
71
RISK
73
THE PRINCIPLE OF COMPENSATION
78
PRODUCTIVE EXCHANGE
84
The State
88
THE PRINCIPLE OF FAIRNESS
90
PROCEDURAL RIGHTS
96
HOW MAY THE DOMINANT AGENCY ACT?
101
THE DE FACTO MONOPOLY
108
PROTECTING OTHERS
110
THE STATE
113
THE INVISIBLEHAND EXPLANATION OF THE STATE
118
Further Considerations on the Argument for the State
120
PREEMPTIVE ATTACK
126
BEHAVIOR IN THE PROCESS
130
LEGITIMACY
133
THE RIGHT OF ALL TO PUNISH
137
PREVENTIVE RESTRAINT
142
Beyond the Minimal State?
147
Distributive Justice
149
HISTORICAL PRINCIPLES AND ENDRESULT PRINCIPLES
153
MACRO AND MICRO
204
NATURAL ASSETS AND ARBITRARINESS
213
THE POSITIVE ARGUMENT
216
THE NEGATIVE ARGUMENT
224
COLLECTIVE ASSETS
228
Equality Envy Exploitation Etc
232
EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY
235
SELFESTEEM AND ENVY
239
MEANINGFUL WORK
246
WORKERS CONTROL
250
MARXIAN EXPLOITATION
253
VOLUNTARY EXCHANGE
262
PHILANTHROPY
265
HAVING A SAY OVER WHAT AFFECTS YOU
268
THE NONNEUTRAL STATE
271
HOW REDISTRIBUTION OPERATES
274
Demoktesis
276
CONSISTENCY AND PARALLEL EXAMPLES
277
THE MORETHANMINIMAL STATE DERIVED
280
HYPOTHETICAL HISTORIES
292
Utopia
295
A Framework for Utopia
297
THE MODEL PROJECTED ONTO OUR WORLD
307
THE FRAMEWORK
309
DESIGN DEVICES AND FILTER DEVICES
312
THE FRAMEWORK AS UTOPIAN COMMON GROUND
317
COMMUNITY AND NATION
320
COMMUNITIES WHICH CHANGE
323
TOTAL COMMUNITIES
325
UTOPIAN MEANS AND ENDS
326
HOW UTOPIA WORKS OUT
331
UTOPIA AND THE MINIMAL STATE
333
Notes
335
Bibliography
355
Index
361
Copyright

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Democracy and Its Critics

Limited preview - 1989
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About the author (1974)

Robert Nozick (1938-2002) was the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. The author of numerous books including The Examined Life and Philosophical Explanations, Nozick was the recipient of the National Book Award for Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

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