Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia is a powerful, philosophical challenge to the most widely held political and social positions of our age -- liberal, socialist and conservative.
"Individuals have rights," Nozick writes in his opening sentence, "and there are things no person or group may do to them without violating their rights." The work that follows is a sophisticated and passionate defence of the rights of the individual as opposed to the state.
The author argues that the state is justified only when it is severely limited to the narrow function of protection against force, theft and fraud and to the enforcement of contracts. Any more extensive activities by the state, he demonstrates, will inevitably violate individual rights.
Among the many achievements of the work are an important new theory of distributive justice, a model of utopia, and an integration of ethics, legal philosophy and economic theory into a profound position in political philosophy which will be discussed for years to come.
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Educated at Columbia and Princeton universities, Robert Nozick is Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. He rose to eminence in the last quarter of the twentieth century as a creative philosopher who has expressed philosophical truths beyond the reach of analytic argumentation. Honed in the technical intricacies of analytic philosophy, he has nonetheless restored meditation to its proper place in the philosophical canon. Nozick's first book, Anarchy, State and Utopia (initially published in 1974), won the National Book Award in 1975 and became the fundamental text of the Libertarian movement. Nozick's second book, Philosophical Explanations, was given the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award of Phi Beta Kappa in 1982. It covers a wide range of basic philosophical topics: the question why there is something rather than nothing, the identity of the self, knowledge and skepticism, free will, the foundation of ethnics, and the meaning of life. Nozick abandons philosophical proof or argumentation as too coercive and opts instead for methods of explanation that promote understanding. This approach has culminated in his third book, The Examined Life.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
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