How to enforce moral borders: compensation or prohibition?

I am reblogging part 17 of my review of Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State, and Utopia.” The post below covers the third section of Chapter 4 of ASU (pp. 58-59), where Nozick presents two different ways of enforcing moral boundaries — what I call “Compensation Systems” and “Prohibition Systems”.

prior probability

The third subsection of Chapter 4 of Anarchy, State, and Utopia (pp. 58-59) narrows down and reformulates the problem of enforcing moral boundaries in terms of two hard questions (p. 59): (i) why not allow or permit boundary crossings so long as the boundary crosser is required to pay full compensation to his victim? Or in the alternative, (ii) why not strictly prohibit all non-consensual boundary crossings, regardless of the boundary crosser’s willingness or ability to pay full compensation to his victim? (For future reference, let’s call all compensation-based schemes or permissive methods of enforcing moral boundaries “Compensation Systems” and all paternalistic, prohibitive, or punishment systems “Prohibition Systems“.) As Nozick notes, if we were to favor a “Compensation System” of enforcing moral boundaries, two related problems will arise. One is the problem of measurement: how should harms or boundary crossings be measured and priced? The other…

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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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