Nozick refutes his own theory!

Unwittingly, Nozick contradicts himself and refutes his own theory of the state in the fourth subsection of Chapter 6 (pp. 133-137)! Recall Nozick’s previous claims from Chapter 5 of  Anarchy, State, and Utopia. In case your memory needs some refreshing, we will break down his main claims here:

  • That a territory’s dominant protection association will eventually become a state or state-like entity;
  • That the dominant protection agency in each territory will prohibit non-clients from enforcing their rights in their dealings with the clients of the protection agency;
  • That the dominant protection agency will compensate these non-clients for this violation of their rights;
  • That this compensation will be in the form of in kind protection services;
  • That this process from protection agency to state will occur without anyone’s natural rights being violated, since non-clients will receive compensation.

Now, however, in the fourth subsection of Chapter 6, Nozick will not only contradict himself; he will also end up self-refuting his own theory of the state! How? By acknowledging (in an extended digression on the problem of double jeopardy) that sometimes victims of harms do not wish to be compensated for such harms (either in money or in kind) and by openly conceding (p. 137): “As the person to whom [an] enforceable obligation is owed, the victim seems the appropriate party to determine precisely how [his natural rights are] to be enforced.” If these propostions are true, then why don’t they apply to non-clients of the state/dominant protection agency? For our part, we won’t gloat; we’ve already leveled these same criticisms many times against Nozick’s unrealistic and speculative theory of the state in previous blog posts, such as this one on 1/5/18. In any case, stay tuned — we will conclude our review of Chapter 6 of ASU tomorrow …

Image result for self refuting


About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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