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19 Ariz. L. Rev. 7 (1977)
Robert Nozick's Derivation of the Minimal State

handle is hein.journals/arz19 and id is 15 raw text is: ROBERT NOZICK'S DERIVATION OF
THE MINIMAL STATE
Robert Paul Wolff*
In Part I of Anarchy, State, and Utopia,' Robert Nozick under-
takes to demonstrate, on the basis of what would ordinarily be consid-
ered libertarian anarchist moral and metaphysical assumptions, that a de
jure legitimate state could come into existence by a sequence of steps, no
one of which violated any person's rights; that such a state would satisfy
a plausible definition of the state of the sort Max Weber enunciated; that
it could function as a state without violating anyone's rights; and that
such a state would be a genuine minimal, or nightwatchman, state. In
Part II, Nozick goes on to argue that a state so conceived could be no
more than a minimal state without violating someone's rights.
In this Article, I propose to subject the argument of Part I of
Anarchy, State, and Utopia to examination and criticism. After a brief
summary of Nozick's argument, intended to bring into view the elements
of it whioh are especially important for my analysis, I shall develop my
critique in three stages, beginning with purely internal considerations of
the consistency of Nozick's argument, given his premises, and proceed-
ing to more and more external considerations. My conclusions will
be that Nozick's argument is internally unsuccessful; that a number of
the background assumptions of his argument are wrong, in ways which
vitiate his theory; that his entire mode, or style, of doing political
philosophy is inappropriate to its subject matter; and finally, that the
peculiar tone of Anarchy, State, and Utopia serves as a clue to what is
awry with it philosophically, as a piece of political theory.
NozIcK's ARGUMENT
Nozick begins with a group of individuals in a Lockean state of
* Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts. A.B., 1953, A.M., 1954,
Ph.D, 1957, Harvard University.
1. R. Nozicm, ANARcHY, STATE, Am UTOPIA (1974).

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