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Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) is recognised as a classic of modern political philosophy. Along with John Rawls's A Theory of Justice (1971), it is widely credited with breathing new life into the discipline in the second half of the twentieth century. This Companion presents a balanced and comprehensive assessment of Nozick's contribution to political philosophy. In engaging and accessible chapters, the contributors analyse Nozick's ideas from a variety of perspectives and explore neglected areas of the work such as his discussion of anarchism and his theory of utopia. Their detailed and illuminating picture of Anarchy, State, and Utopia, its impact and its enduring influence will be invaluable to students and scholars in both political philosophy and political theory.
Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) is recognized as a classic of modern political philosophy. In tandem with John Rawls's A Theory of Justice (1971), it is widely credited with breathing new life into political philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century. It effectively moved libertarianism from a relatively unimportant subset of political philosophy to the center of the discipline.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia (ASU) was written whilst Nozick was a fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences in Stanford during the academic year of 1971-972. It constitutes the combination of three separate projects that Nozick was working on at that time. Part I is based on a talk concerned with how a state would arise out of the state of nature that Nozick presented to a student group at Stanford, whilst also incorporating some of the ideas developed in his 1971 paper “On the Randian Argument.” Part II primarily results from his engagement with John Rawls's theory of justice, which led to the formulation of the entitlement theory of justice, much of which Nozick developed whilst co-teaching a course on capitalism and socialism at Harvard with Michael Walzer. Part III , in turn, derives from Nozick's contribution to a panel on utopia at a meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Although Nozick initially wanted to work on the problem of free will whilst at Stanford, he instead ended up combining these three projects, yielding ASU.
A Theory of Justice is a powerful, deep, subtle, wide-ranging, systematic work in political and moral philosophy which has not seen its like since the writings of John Stuart Mill, if then. It is a fountain of illuminating ideas, integrated together into a lovely whole. Political philosophers must now either work within Rawls' theory or explain why not ... It is impossible to read Rawls' book without incorporating much, perhaps transmuted, into one' own deepened view. And it is impossible to finish his book without a new and inspiring vision of what a moral theory may attempt to do and unite; of how beautiful a whole theory can be.
Rawls’s construction is incapable of yielding an entitlement or historical conception of distributive justice … If historical- entitlement principles are fundamental, then Rawls’s construction will yield approximations of them at best; it will produce the wrong sorts of reasons for them, and its derived results sometimes will conflict with the precisely correct principles. The whole procedure of persons choosing principles in Rawls’s original position presupposes that no historical-entitlement conception of justice is correct.