The laws of nature

I am reblogging part 4 (see below) of my extended review of Nozick. Here, we proceed into Chapter 2 of “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” — a chapter which has five sections. In the first section, Nozick identifies two natural laws that operate in the state of nature: the non-aggression principle — “no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty, health, or possession” (p. 10) — and the law of retribution, i.e. if a person in the state of nature harms another person, the injured party has a moral right to punish the transgressor. The problem with these two laws, however, is that there are no courts in the state of nature to determine what constitutes “harm” — so acts of private retribution will often produce endless cycles of violence. Also, what about the laws of kinship? To the point, isn’t the family the true source of the state and of natural law?

prior probability

Chapter 2 of Anarchy, State, and Utopia is divided into five separate subsections. Here, we will review the first of these five subsections (pp. 10-12), where Nozick summarizes Locke’s description of the state of nature and identifies three practical problems or “inconveniences” that could arise in a state of nature. According to Locke, the state of nature (i.e. absence of civil government) is governed by two natural laws. The first natural law is that “no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty, health, or possession” (p. 10), while the second natural law is the law of retribution. Specifically, if a person in the state of nature harms another person, the injured party has a moral right to punish the transgressor. But as Nozick correctly notes, these two laws of nature produce several “inconveniences.” One inconvenience is that men in the state of nature “will [tend to] overestimate the…

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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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