Let’s begin our review of Robert Nozick’s book Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Nozick opens his preface with this famous sentence: “Individuals have rights and there are things no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights).” This Kantian premise is an attractive and appealing one, but at a minimum, Nozick will at some point have to explain to us (1) what these rights are and (2) why violations of such rights are wrong (and if there are any exceptions to these two general rules). Otherwise, Nozick’s opening gambit is simply a sophisticated case of circular reasoning or question begging. After all, why do we have rights and who gave them to us? We will review the rest of Nozick’s thought-provoking preface in our next post.
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