Libertarianism and Modern
Philosophers
Lecture 1
Nozick on Anarchism
●One of the most important discussions
of libertarianism in contemporary
philosophy was Robert Nozick’...
Structure of the Argument
●Nozick has an ingenious idea. How would you
argue successfully against libertarian
anarchism?
●...
Nozick’s Solution
●How does Nozick achieve this goal? He
starts by assuming that libertarian
anarchism exists. His startin...
The Solution Continued
●Starting with the anarchist standpoint,
Nozick thinks that he can show that
people in it will aban...
An Objection
●Suppose that Nozick’s argument is
successful---I don’t think it is, but this
doesn’t matter now.
●He would s...
Nozick’s Response
●Nozick wouldn’t find this objection persuasive.
●He thinks that Rothbard’s starting point is a
good one...
A Common Mistake about the
Argument
●Many people have a wrong idea about
the structure of Nozick’s argument.
●They think t...
What’s the Mistake?
●If this were all there was to the argument, it
wouldn’t be very good.
●Suppose all of you gave me all...
The DPA
●Nozick assumes that people would join
protective associations to enforce their
rights.
●Everyone, or almost every...
More DPA
●If you are a client of an agency, you will want
your agency to win, if there is a dispute about
procedures that ...
An Objection
●Note that here Nozick makes an exception to
the usual rule that there is no general
tendency to monopoly on ...
The Results of Dominance
●Let’s suppose that Nozick is right that most
people in a territory would join the same
agency. T...
Is This Fair?
●You might think that Nozick has slipped in an
unjustified assumption. Why does the DPA
get to prohibit proc...
Why Not Compensate?
●A natural objection here is that prohibition of
risky procedures is unjustified. Suppose a
client of ...
Nozick’s Response
●Certain kinds of punishment generate
fear. If you think that a risky procedure
might lead to your execu...
Response Continued
●Nozick has an answer to this. Even
those who are never falsely accused
will fear fear. They will recei...
The Minimal State
●A DPA that successfully prohibits any
decision procedures on its clients it considers
risky is an ultra...
Compensation and the
Minimal State
●Because it has disadvantaged these
independents, the DPA must compensate
them.
●It can...
The Character of the Minimal
State
●One might object that everyone other than the
independents would want low-cost or free...
Problems with Nozick’s
Argument
●In the argument for the DPA, Nozick seems to
be caught in a predicament. The argument
can...
Hamowy’s Objection
●The best objection to Nozick’s argument
comes from Ronald Hamowy. The
compensation offered those wrong...
An Additional Objection
●A further basic problem is that Nozick
has overestimated the importance of
differences about deci...
Still Another
●Nozick seems to have overestimated
the importance of punishments that
inspire fear. Very few cases involve
...
Roy Childs’s Objection
●Roy Childs claimed that a minimal state is
unstable. Because it has to offer protection to
indepen...
Childs’s Solution Continued
●The response to Nozick doesn’t work. True
enough, another agency could undercut the
minimal s...
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Libertarianism and Modern Philosophers, Lecture 1 with David Gordon - Mises Academy

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Libertarianism and Modern Philosophers, Lecture 1 with David Gordon - Mises Academy

  1. 1. Libertarianism and Modern Philosophers Lecture 1
  2. 2. Nozick on Anarchism ●One of the most important discussions of libertarianism in contemporary philosophy was Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia. (1974) ●In this lecture I’m going to discuss Nozick’s argument against libertarian anarchism.
  3. 3. Structure of the Argument ●Nozick has an ingenious idea. How would you argue successfully against libertarian anarchism? ●You might have a different view of political theory and attempt to argue in support of this. But then the anarchist might just reject your premises. ●Nozick thinks he can get out of this problem, i.e, he can show that anarchism is false using premises the anarchist can’t reject.
  4. 4. Nozick’s Solution ●How does Nozick achieve this goal? He starts by assuming that libertarian anarchism exists. His starting point in the type of society supported by Murray Rothbard. Libertarian anarchists certainly can’t reject that. ●Rothbard had a great influence on Nozick.
  5. 5. The Solution Continued ●Starting with the anarchist standpoint, Nozick thinks that he can show that people in it will abandon anarchism. Rothbard’s theory is thus self- undermining. ●To reiterate, if Nozick is successful, the anarchist won’t be able to argue, “Your support for the minimal state rests on
  6. 6. An Objection ●Suppose that Nozick’s argument is successful---I don’t think it is, but this doesn’t matter now. ●He would still have to face this objection, “Even if you’ve shown that libertarian anarchism is self- undermining, this doesn’t show that the minimal state is justified. Maybe the
  7. 7. Nozick’s Response ●Nozick wouldn’t find this objection persuasive. ●He thinks that Rothbard’s starting point is a good one. He thinks that people have libertarian rights, and that these rights are fairly close to the ones Rothbard favors. ●Thus, his argument doesn’t just aim to show that libertarian anarchism is self-undermining. Rather, since libertarian anarchism is the proper starting point, getting to the minimal state from there justifies the minimal state.
  8. 8. A Common Mistake about the Argument ●Many people have a wrong idea about the structure of Nozick’s argument. ●They think that the argument goes like this: if you start with libertarian anarchy, you can get to a minimal state through a series of steps that lead to a minimal state.
  9. 9. What’s the Mistake? ●If this were all there was to the argument, it wouldn’t be very good. ●Suppose all of you gave me all of your money.That wouldn’t violate anyone’s rights—you all chose to give me the money--- but , aside from being good for me, you have no reason to do so. ●For a successful argument, Nozick needs to show that each of the steps is either to people’s advantage or else is required by morality.
  10. 10. The DPA ●Nozick assumes that people would join protective associations to enforce their rights. ●Everyone, or almost everyone, accepts the same libertarian law code. This still leaves room for differences. E.g., what procedures an agency should use in assessing guilt.
  11. 11. More DPA ●If you are a client of an agency, you will want your agency to win, if there is a dispute about procedures that can’t be settled. ●What determines which agency will win? Nozick assumes that the strength of an agency is largely determined by the number of clients it has. ●If one agency is larger than the others, it will attract clients in a spiraling process.
  12. 12. An Objection ●Note that here Nozick makes an exception to the usual rule that there is no general tendency to monopoly on the free market. Here there is a tendency to monopoly because size as such is an advantage. ●An obvious objection is that the agencies could agree on what to do in disputes. Nozick deals with this by claiming that if they do that, they form one agency. Is this right? He also considers locally dominant agencies.
  13. 13. The Results of Dominance ●Let’s suppose that Nozick is right that most people in a territory would join the same agency. That doesn’t create a state---why isn’ t this just a particular type of libertarian anarchy? ●Here is where Nozick shows his ingenuity. ●He asks, what can the DPA do to people who don’t join the agency? He says that it can prohibit other agencies and independents ( people who aren’t in an agency) from using decision procedures on its clients that it
  14. 14. Is This Fair? ●You might think that Nozick has slipped in an unjustified assumption. Why does the DPA get to prohibit procedures that it considers too risky when other agencies don’t? Why does its size confer additional rights on it? ●But Nozick doesn’t assume that that the DPA has more rights. Other agencies are free to try to prohibit procedures they deem too risky. The point is that the DPA will win, in case of confrontation. You aren’t under an obligation to accept some other agencies views on risky
  15. 15. Why Not Compensate? ●A natural objection here is that prohibition of risky procedures is unjustified. Suppose a client of the DPA commits a crime against a client of another agency. That agency determines his guilt using a risky procedure. If he turns out to be innocent, then can’t he be compensated by the other agency? If this procedure were followed, the DPA wouldn’t be determining the procedures used in the territory and wouldn’t be a state.
  16. 16. Nozick’s Response ●Certain kinds of punishment generate fear. If you think that a risky procedure might lead to your execution or imprisonment under harsh conditions, you would feel afraid. ●Does this justify prohibition? Couldn’t people wrongly convicted get compensation for this fear, in addition to
  17. 17. Response Continued ●Nozick has an answer to this. Even those who are never falsely accused will fear fear. They will receive no compensation for this extra fear, because no cases involving them come up. ●This is why the DPA can prohibit risky decision procedures and need not
  18. 18. The Minimal State ●A DPA that successfully prohibits any decision procedures on its clients it considers risky is an ultraminimal state. ●It cannot remain an ultraminimal state: morality forbids this. By prohibiting independents from imposing risky decision procedures on its clients, it is disadvantaging them. They have done nothing wrong: they just have different views on decision procedures from the DPA.
  19. 19. Compensation and the Minimal State ●Because it has disadvantaged these independents, the DPA must compensate them. ●It can do so by offering low-cost or free protection packages to them. ●The DPA then becomes a minimal state. Since it provides protective services to everybody, and these services aren’t sold at market prices, it is sufficiently like a state to count as one. Some people get protection below cost, and others must pay higher prices
  20. 20. The Character of the Minimal State ●One might object that everyone other than the independents would want low-cost or free protection. But Nozick thinks this wouldn’t happen. The compensation offered to the independents is a bare-bones package. ●There is no taxation; but if you don’t join the DPA, you may find it difficult to enforce contracts or respond to rights violations that involve its clients.
  21. 21. Problems with Nozick’s Argument ●In the argument for the DPA, Nozick seems to be caught in a predicament. The argument can’t be too successful. If everybody joins the DPA, it is simply a private agency with a large clientele, not a state. ●Nozick is thus arguing against himself. The spiraling process must end at a point that leaves some independents around.
  22. 22. Hamowy’s Objection ●The best objection to Nozick’s argument comes from Ronald Hamowy. The compensation offered those wrongly convicted in cases that involve fear can be high enough so that even those who are never charged find the situation acceptable. “I’m afraid, but I know that if were ever wrongfully convicted, I’d do
  23. 23. An Additional Objection ●A further basic problem is that Nozick has overestimated the importance of differences about decision procedures. Would these really represent major sources of conflict? Also, why think that the DPA would have less risky procedures, by its own standard, than competitors? People don’t want to be wrongly convicted, but they also want
  24. 24. Still Another ●Nozick seems to have overestimated the importance of punishments that inspire fear. Very few cases involve these. ●Besides, an agency could simply avoid punishments that generated such fear. Then the DPA could do nothing to it.
  25. 25. Roy Childs’s Objection ●Roy Childs claimed that a minimal state is unstable. Because it has to offer protection to independents it has prohibited from risky decision procedures, it must compensate them by low cost or free protection. But then its prices are higher than market price for protection. ●Another agency could then undercut it by using the same decision procedures as the DPA, but not offering services to independents. The minimal state would be
  26. 26. Childs’s Solution Continued ●The response to Nozick doesn’t work. True enough, another agency could undercut the minimal state’s prices, but it couldn’t prohibit independents from applying risky decision procedures to its clients, since it isn’t compensating them. ●Remember, the minimal state prohibits risky decision procedures only to its own clients, and people in other agencies aren’t clients.
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