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Nozick's Real Argument for the Minimal State
The Journal of Political Philosophy
Nozick is often interpreted as arguing that independents are entitled to protection by the Dominant Protective Agency (DPA) because the DPA infringes their right to punish those who violate their rights. Yet a closer look at Anarchy, State and Utopia reveals that Nozick actually rejects the very argument which is commonly attributed to him, and that he does so for good reason. However, I argue that Nozick’s replacement principle of compensation for disadvantage, meant to ground his real argument for independents’ entitlement to protection by the DPA, ought to be unacceptable to a libertarian. I end by suggesting an alternative to it, which I think remains faithful to basic libertarian principles.
First submitted to the University of Oxford for the BPhil in philosophy examination 2002. The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
The Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 12, Issue 3, pp. 353-364, Sept 2004