Nozick’s fear argument

I am reblogging part 21 of my review of Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” (ASU). The post below goes over the sixth subsection of Chapter 4 of ASU (pp. 65-71), where Nozick concludes that fear-inducing acts must be prohibited outright instead of allowed so long as compensation is paid. I also take the opportunity in my post to rip apart Nozick’s fear argument. Notwithstanding my critique of Nozick’s fear argument, Chapter 4 still has three more sections, which I will turn to in my next few posts.

prior probability

For most of Chapter 4, Nozick has been wondering why all wrongful acts are not allowed so long as compensation is paid. Here, in the sixth subsection of this chapter (pp. 65-71), Nozick presents (to his mind) his strongest argument against a permissive or compensation-based view of morality: the argument from fear. In the words of Nozick (p. 66): “Some [types of boundary crossings] we would fear, even knowing that we shall be compensated fully for their happening or being done to us.” This fear argument does not apply to all border crossings; only to those wrongful acts (such as rape, assault, and other forms of physical violence) that generate fear and apprehension. Nozick thus concludes that fear-inducing acts must be prohibited and punished as public crimes. (Presumably, non-fear-producing acts should be allowed so long as compensation is paid.)

Although the fear argument is plausible, three complications trouble us. One…

View original post 273 more words

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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