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In short, this book is significant but poorly argued and structured. It operates largely on the assumption that certain models of transaction will strike us as "intuitively" unethical. Which is to say, he side-steps the toughest job in ethics, which is to genuinely persuade a person to make a certain decision and just assumes we already will. In other words, he offers almost no argument at all.
The book is also poorly structured and reads more like a collection of essays and short stories than a thesis. It makes the point muddled and definitions get mixed up and vague. Add to this the increasing obscurity of his prose (guided by his formal logic background) and the book becomes almost unreadable.
The book is worth reading if you have an interest in the history of modern political writing. It is structured largely as a response to the far superior "Theory of Justice" by Rawls. It's important for a few reasons, then. First, it is something that has captured a section of the population's attention as of late. It's always valuable to understand the roots of current political movements. Second, it does provide a few significant and memorable challenges to Rawls' view. Though it is disjointed and poorly constructed, it does provide a few brilliant insights on Rawls' assumptions about people and their relationship to property etc. Finally, it is the best construction of this political model I've ever found. His ontology is far far more sensible than anything the pseudo-philosopher Ayn Rand rolled out.
Nozick himself was a respectable and brilliant philosopher when he was doing formal logic or epistemology. However, he really cannot do political philosophy worth a damn. Rumour has it that in his later years, he actually came to distance himself from this effort. It is historically significant, and provides some insight, but the book itself is a confusing, fallacious and lazy account of the state.
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Interesting counterpoint to Rawls's Theory of Justice. Together, they explore the questions of what is just, what is proper role of the state, and what are our obligations to each other.
Review: Anarchy, State, and UtopiaUser Review - Andrew Cutler - Goodreads
An amazing text full of so many fun thought experiments and ideas, many of which Nozick immediately abandoned after writing this! His idea of an 'experience machine' as a counter to hedonistic and ... Read full review
Review: Anarchy, State, and UtopiaUser Review - Jp Snow - Goodreads
This is an extremely heavy piece of libertarian political philosophy. Nozick proves through moral logic (including plenty of propositions and equations) that the minimal libertarian state is the ... Read full review
Review: Anarchy, State, and UtopiaUser Review - Sue Fewster - Goodreads
Don't agree with anything he says - but it is well written and gives one insight into the political approach of the elite - demonstrates the thinking lying behind the libertarian approach of those following Thatcher. Caused the death of socialism in my mind. Read full review
Review: Anarchy, State, and UtopiaUser Review - Rui Baptista - Goodreads
Nozick was a philosopher-for-rent. His theories were built on demand to provide justification for an increasingly unequal society where the richest few control all decisions and accumulate more and ... Read full review
Review: Anarchy, State, and UtopiaUser Review - Patrick Peterson - Goodreads
The first 40-50 pages were almost unreadable. A few clear statements surrounded by almost impossible to understand or follow statements that just did not seem well connected or to logically prove ... Read full review
Review: Anarchy, State, and UtopiaUser Review - Colin - Goodreads
I've finally finished this after 6 months or so of stop-start. You have to admire Nozick's thoroughness as he works painstakingly through every moral, ethical and logical step of society's evolution ... Read full review