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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Robert Nozick and the Coast of Utopia

David Lewis Schaefer in the New York Sun, April 30, 2008, reconsiders Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) by Robert Nozick.
Suggesting that “the fundamental question of political philosophy” is not how government should be organized but "whether there should be any state at all," Nozick offers an adaptation of John Locke’s doctrine that government is legitimate only to the degree that it affords greater security for life, liberty, and property than would exist in a chaotic, pre-political “state of nature.” More emphatically than Locke, however, Nozick concludes that the need for security justifies only a minimal, or "night-watchman," state, since it cannot be demonstrated, he believes, that all rational individuals would find any more extensive government necessary to secure their rights.

(via Arts & Letters Daily)

--Terrence Berres

1 comment:

  1. I too share the view that smaller government would be better and that the primary role of government ought to be ensuring that everyone plays by the same rules, not determining outcomes or distributing income.

    However...

    The assertion that such a government really is best because "all" rational people would not agree that... strikes me. Must "all" rational people agree on the same kind of government. It was taken for granted for a long time that people having different religions would lead to social chaos. We found a way to have buddhists living next door to catholics without too much problem. It used to be taken for granted that everyone had to have the same phone company and we have since figured out a way for that not to be the case. I wonder if it will ever become possible for communists to live under a communist government next door to capitalists living under a democratic government. I have a hard time concieving such a thing but it certainly would be just. Everyone has that level of government services and involvment in their life that they want.

    Perhaps that is anarchy - rule by voluntary association.

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