Robert Nozick: Property, Justice, and the Minimal State (Key Contemporary Thinkers)
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This book is the first full-length study of Nozick's work and of the debates to which it has given rise. Wolff situates Nozick's work in the context of current debates and examines the traditions which have influenced his thought. He then critically reconstructs the key arguments of Anarchy, State, and Utopia, focusing on Nozick's doctrine of rights, his derivation of the minimal state, and his Entitlement Theory of Justice. Wolff subjects Nozick's reasoning to rigorous scrutiny and argues that, despite the seductive simplicity of Nozick's libertarianism, it is, in the end, neither plausible nor wholly coherent. The book concludes by assessing Nozick's place in contemporary political philosophy.
do. Nozick, therefore, sets out to provide a moral view that treats the separateness of persons with the importance he believes it to have. At its heart is the idea that there are certain things an individual has an absolute right to control, and considerations of social welfare cannot overrule these rights. Primarily, for Nozick, one has such rights over one’s life and liberty, and the general right to form specific rights to property. More fully, one
do not comply. What should we do? We might agree that the judge has a right to life and liberty, at least in the sense that no interference with either can be justified. It is clear that handing over the judge would constitute an interference with her liberty, and would probably lead to her torture and death. To surrender the judge to the terrorists would be to violate her rights to non-interference, so it would seem to follow that we should not do this. But in reply, it
right to do. So the question is: do people have a right to transfer their D1 holdings? At first sight one might argue that if they are given the holdings then they have a right to do whatever they want with them. But this is too quick. One can be granted the right to possess and consume holdings without also having the right to transfer them. We might not like some of the consequences of this set of
judgement that: For our own part, we have a large tolerance for one-eyed men, provided their one eye is a penetrating one: if they saw more, they probably would not see so keenly, nor so eagerly pursue one course of inquiry.34 Notes Introduction 1 J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1972), p. viii. 2 A point made by R. P. Wolff, ‘Robert Nozick’s Derivation of the Minimal State’, in Reading Nozick, ed. J. Paul (Blackwell, Oxford, 1982), p. 82.
Anarchism’; and R. P. Wolff, ‘The Derivation of the Minimal State’. Like many of the papers referred to in this book, those by Holmes and Wolff are reprinted in J. Paul (ed.), Reading Nozick. For background reading, D. Miller, Anarchism, is a good general guide to the topic, while G. Woodcock, The Anarchist Reader, is a very interesting selection from the major Anarchist thinkers. R. P. Wolff, In Defence of Anarchism, is an attempt to defend what has