A CRITIQUE OF ROBERT NOZICK’S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Robert Nozick (1938-2002) was an American philosopher, best known for his rigorous defense of libertarianism in his first major work, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). During his high school and college years, Nozick was a member of the student new left and an enthusiastic socialist. At Columbia, he helped to found a campus branch of the league for industrial democracy. While in graduate school, he read works by libertarian thinkers such as F. A. Hayek and Ludwig Von Mises, and his political views began to change. His conversion to libertarianism culminated in 1974 with the publication of Anarchy, State, and Utopia, a closely argued and highly original defense of the libertarian “minimal state” and a critique of the social-democratic liberalism of John Rowls.
The main body of this work falls into four parts; introduction, Nozick on moral right Nozick’s minimal state and appraisal of Robert Nozick political philosophy.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Nozick’s natural rights – particularly the right of self-ownership and the consequent right to the fruit’s of one’s labour present an obvious problems if we desire any state at all, no matter how minimal.
1.2 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The objective of this work is to look at moral rights and side constraints, state of nature rights, foundation of rights, the attenuation of rights, the minimal state versus individualist anarchy, the minimal state, the challenge of individual anarchism, response to the anarchist challenges, justice holdings, the historical entitlement doctrine about justice in holding, the critique of end state and patterned principle, Nozick’s Lockean Proviso, the rectification of historical is justice and utopia.
1.3 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
Nozick’s political philosophy is researchable because of the problem that usually surround the issue of right. In most case, some government try to intervene with individual right. A good example could be seen in Nigeria, where individual rights to religion, life, speech etc is often been constrained by state coercive power. Based on this, Nozick’s political philosophy is researchable on the ground that individuals have rights, and there are thing no person or group may do without violating this rights.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Anarchy, state, and utopia, these works essentially revived the discipline of political philosophy within the analytic school, whose practitioners had, until Nozick came along, largely neglected it. Nozick’s also revived interest in the notion of rights as being central to political theory, and it did so in the service of another idea that had been long neglected within academic political thoughts, namely libertinism.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
It is important to point out that although we are working in Robert Nozick’s political philosophy, we are however working specifically at Nozick’s natural rights as well as to criticize some view made by Nozick in anarchism, state and utopia.
1.6 OVERVIEW OF NOZICK’S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
The main purpose of Anarchy, State and Utopia is to show that the minimal state, is morally justified. By a minimal state Nozick means a state that function essentially as a “Night Watchman”, with powers limited to those necessary to protect citizen against violence, theft, and fraud. By arguing that the minimal is justified, Nozick seeks to refute anarchism which opposes any state whatever, by arguing that no more than the minimal state is justified Nozick seek to refute modern forms of liberalism as well as socialism and others leftist ideologies which contend that, in addition to its power, as a night watchman, the state should have the powers to regulate the economic activities of citizens to regulate the economic activities of citizens to redistribute wealth in the direction of greater equality, and to provide social services such as education and health care.
Against anarchism, Nozick claims that a minimal state is justified because it (or something very much like it) would arise spontaneously among people living in a hypothetical “state of nature” through transactions that would not involve the violation of anyone’s natural rights following the 17th century English philosopher John Locke. Nozick assumes that everyone possesses the natural rights to life, liberty, and property including the right to claim as property the fruits or products of one’s labour and the right to dispose of one’s property as one sees fit (provided that in doing so one does not violate the rights of any one’s else). Everyone also has the natural right to punish those who violate one’s own natural rights. Because defending one’s natural right in a state of nature would be difficult for anyone to do on his own. Individual would band together to form “protection association”, in which members would work together to defend each other’s rights and to punish rights violator.
Eventually, some of these associations would developed into private business offering protection and punishment services for a fee. The great importance that individuals would attach to such services would give the largest protection firms a natural competitive advantage, and eventually only one firm, or a confederation of firms) would have a monopoly of force in the territory of the community and because it would protect the rights of everyone living there, it would constitute a minimal state in the libertarian sense. And because the minimal state would come about without violating anyone’s natural rights, a state with at least its powers is justified.
Against liberalism and other leftist ideologies, (modern form of liberalism) Nozick claims that no more than the minimal state is justified, because any state with more extensive powers would violate the natural rights of its citizens. Thus the state should not have the power to control prices or to set a minimal wage because doing so would violate the natural right of citizens to dispose of their labour as they see fit. For similar reasons, the state should not have the power to establish public education or health care through taxes imposed on citizen who may wish to spend their money on private services instead. Indeed, according to Nozick any mandatory taxation used to fund services or benefits other than those constitutive of the minimal state in unjust, because such taxation amount to a kind of “force labour” for the state by those who must pay the tax.
1.7 AIM OF THE STUDY
The aim of the work is to critically examines Robert Nozick’s political philosophy which is contains his book Anarchy, State and Utopia. According to Nozick is to show that the minimal state is morally justified. By a minimal state Nozick means a state that function essentially as a “night watchman” with powers limited to those necessary to protect – citizens against violence, theft and fraud. Nozick adopts and defends what he calls “The Entitlement Theory”. By way of explaining the entitlement theory of justice Althan (10) maintains that Nozick’s vision of legitimate state power thus contrasts remarkably with that of Rawls argues that the state should have whatever powers are necessary to ensure that those citizens who are least well-off are as well off as they can be (though these powers must be consistent with a variety of basic rights and freedom). This viewpoint is derived from Rawls’ theory of justice one principle of which is that an unequal distribution of wealth and income is acceptable only if those at the button are better off than they would be under any other distribution. According to Althan (11) Nozick’s response to such argument is to claim that they rest on the false conception of distributive justice; they wrongly define a just distribution in terms of the pattern it exhibits at a given time (example, an equal distribution or a distribution that unequal to a certain extent) or in terms of the historical circumstances surrounding its development (example those who worked the hardest have more) rather than in terms of the nature of the transactions through which distribution came about. For Nozick, any distribution of “holdings,” as he calls them, no matter how unequal, is just if (and only if) it arises from a just distribution through legitimate means. One legitimate means is the appropriation of something that is owned in circumstance where the acquisition would not disadvantage others. A second means is the voluntary transfer of ownership of holdings to someone else. A third means is the rectification of past injustices in the acquisition or transfer of holdings. According to Nozick, anyone who acquire what he has through these means is morally entitled to it. Thus, the entitlement theory of justice state that the distribution of holdings in a society is just if (and only if) everyone in that society. Thus the aim of this work is to show that Nozick’s moral justification for the state is far from compelling on the ground that the independent (few individual) where force to pay for the services they initially do not want may be they do not have money to pay for security but the dominant protection force them to pay, as such Holmes (40) is of the opinion that since the minimal state has considerable power, it is not different from a state with all powers usually associated with it. The paper is of the view that at time it is not only necessary but desirable to redistribute wealth and resources so as to help those in need. Moreso, possession of wealth by individuals might be a product of chance rather than talent and ability. We should at this point look at Nozick’s on moral rights in order to have clear idea of state of nature right.