Nozick and the problem of risky independents

Nozick addresses a very intriguing question in the first subsection of Chapter 5 of ASU (pp. 88-90): when does a private protection agency in a (Lockean) state of nature have the moral right to prohibit a non-member from enforcing his natural rights? After all, according to Nozick, not only does every person have rights; every person also has the right to enforce his rights. But enforcement can be a risky business. What if, for example, a non-member uses enforcement procedures that are too risky or dangerous? Or, in the words of Nozick (p. 88): “An independent might be prohibited from privately exacting justice because his [enforcement] procedure is known to be too risky and dangerous–that is, it involves a higher risk (than another procedure) of punishing an innocent person or overpunishing a guilty one …” We call this the problem of risky independents.

Without getting bogged down in the details of Nozick’s intricate chain of reasoning — otherwise, our review of Nozick’s work would be ten times longer than the work itself — Nozick concludes that no protection agency has the right to prohibit a “risky independent” from enforcing his own rights! Nozick does not base this conclusion on the line-drawing problem he has raised before; e.g. when is an enforcement procedure too risky or dangerous? Instead, Nozick’s conclusion is based on the following fundamental logical premise (p. 89, emphasis in original): “the legitimate powers of a protective association are merely the sum of the individual rights that its members or clients transfer to the association.” In other words, if an individual person does not have the moral right to preemptively prohibit another individual from enforcing his rights, then collectives like protection agencies also lack this right.

Fine. But why do individuals lack the moral right to engage in preemptive or defensive strikes in the first place?

Image result for risky business

Happy Birthday Sydjia!

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One Response to Nozick and the problem of risky independents

  1. Abogada Guerra says:

    Thank you ❤

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