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23 Ariz. L. Rev. 753 (1981)
Philosophization against Taxation: Why Nozick's Challenge Fails

handle is hein.journals/arz23 and id is 769 raw text is: PHILOSOPHIZATION AGAINST TAXATION: WHY
NOZICK'S CHALLENGE FAILS
Elliott M. Abramson*
Much of the ideological motivation for the current emphasis on
cutting taxes, both from the newly elected Reagan Administration
and aroused popular will, stems from recent philosophical speculation
by libertarian thinkers. \ A highly conspicuous and influential exam-
ple of such thought is Anarchy, State and Utopia by Harvard philoso-
pher Robert Nozick.1 In this National Book Award-winning volume,
Professor Nozick hurls a profoundly serious and powerfully argued cri-
tique at the legitimacy of the very concept of governmental taxation of
personal wealth.
Under the banner of libertarianism, Nozick's work is part of a gen-
eral offensive in behalf of the sacrosanct character of individual rights
vis-A-vis various governmental measures, regulations and encroach-
ments. As Irving Howe has recently written, The principal target of
the new conservative offensive is the welfare state.' This conservative
canon exemplified in Nozick's thought asserts that individuals, qua in-
dividuals, possess rights which may not be legitimately infringed by
other individuals or by governmental apparatus. Individuals have
rights, and there are things no person or group may do to them (with-
out violating their rights).3
Given the prominence of current anti-tax public policy propos-
als, for which such libertarian philosophies provide stimulus and sup-
port, it is appropriate to subject these theories to scrutiny.
* Professor of Law, DePaul University, A.B., Columbia University, 1960; J.D., Harvard
Law School, 1963.
1. R. NOZICK, ANARACHY, STATE, AND UTOPIA (1974).
2. Howe, The Right Meance, THE NEw REPUBLIC, Sept. 9, 1978, at 13. The popular enthu-
siasm for a tax limitation measure, such as California's Proposition 13, reflects a perspective that
government has demanded too much from some in behalf of others.
3. R. NOZICK, supra note 1, at ix.

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