Criticisms of Robert Nozick and "Anarchy, State, and Utopia".

Part of the "Critiques of Libertarianism" site.

Last updated 04/27/09.

Robert Nozick is perhaps the best known for libertarian philosophy. His work roiled political philosophy for years. What is less known is that his libertarian philosophy has been so thoroughly refuted that he no longer defends it.


Robert Nozick, Libertarianism, And Utopia
A distillation of a few of Jonathan Wolff's arguments showing a few invalid criticisms of Nozick, and concluding with how Nozick would reinvent the past.
A Critique Of Libertarianism.
James Hammerton's criticisms of Nozick and Hayek's ideas. Excellent philosophical rebuttals of some libertarian axioms.
Contemporary Political Philosophy
By Will Kymlicka. Specifically dissects many libertarian claims (mostly those of Nozick) for 65 pages.
Why Libertarianism Is Mistaken
by Hugh LaFollette. A published academic examination of the incoherence of founding libertarianism on negative rights and liberty.
Robert Nozick And The Immaculate Conception Of The State
Murray Rothbard criticizes "Anarchy, State, And Utopia" from a natural rights perspective. He swallowed the cow to catch the goat... he's dead, of course.
Nozick Reconsidered
Liz Wang analyzes Susan Moller Okin's demonstration that Nozick's origin of rights and rule of acquisition results in children being non-persons owned by their mother.

Print References

The links here are to, through their associates program, primarily because of the review information. Books without links are generally out of print, and can often be easily found at AddAll Used and Out Of Print Search. Good sites for bargain shopping for sometimes expensive new books are Online Bookstore Price Comparison and AddAll Book Search and Price Comparison. Both of those list applicable coupons. Another is

Harry Brighouse "Justice (Key Concepts)"
Contains 20 pages of criticism of Friedman and Nozick's ideas of justice.
G. A. Cohen "Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality (Studies in Marxism and Social Theory)"
Cambridge Univ Press, 1995.
William A Edmundson "Three Anarchical Fallacies : An Essay on Political Authority"
Cambridge University Press 1998. Exposes fallacies inspired by the ideas of obedience, coercion, and intrusion. Challenges many assumptions of libertarians and others.
Alan Haworth "Anti-Libertarianism: Markets, Philosophy, and Myth"
Routledge 1994.
Will Kymlicka "Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction"
Oxford University Press, 1991. Now the standard text in the field; very highly regarded. Has a long chapter on libertarianism. Not at all kind to it.
Steven Luper-Foy "The Possibility of Knowledge: Nozick and His Critics"
Jeffrey Paul, editor "Reading Nozick"
(anthology of essays about "Anarchy, State, And Utopia")
James P. Sterba "Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy"
Wadsworth, 1994. His chapter on libertarianism makes the argument that, "... the right to a social minimum endorsed by welfare liberals is also required by the libertarian's own ideal of liberty."
James P. Sterba "Morality in Practice"
Fifth edition, Wadsworth, 1997. Another statement of the above argument. A longer version of this article will appear as "Reconciling Liberty and Equality or Why Libertarians must be Socialists" in Liberty and Equality, edited by Larry May and Jonothan Schonsheck (MIT, 1996).
Jonathan Wolff "Robert Nozick: Property, Justice and the Minimal State"
Blackwell 1991. Summarizes and invents numerous philosophical refutations of Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, a much parrotted work. Libertarians are generally unaware of the flaws and incompleteness of their "best" philosophy.

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Copyright 2007 by Mike Huben ( ).
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