University of Kansas, Spring 2004
Philosophy 555: Justice and Economic Systems

Class notes: Nozick, preface and chapters 1–2

The following notes correspond roughly to what we cover, including at least a portion of what I put on the board or the screen, in class. In places they may be more or less comprehensive than what we actually cover in class, and should not be taken as a substitute for your own observations and records of what goes on in class.

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  1. preface
    1. taking rights as given (p. ix.3)
    2. justification of only a minimal state (p. ix.5); libertarianism (p. ix.8)
    3. counter-intuitive implications (p. x.7)
  2. chapter 1: “Why State-of-Nature Theory?”
    1. political philosophy
      1. p. 5.2: Nozick says ‘minimax’; presumably he means ‘maximin’?
      2. main question: Why state-of-nature theory? (p. 3.7)
      3. answer: We want to know whether any state at all (and, if so, what kind) would morally permissibly arise from a situation of anarchy, in order to know whether any state (and, if so, what kind) is better than none. (p. 5.7)
    2. explanatory political theory
      1. p. 6.8: aim—to provide a “fundamental” explanation of the political in terms of the nonpolitical
      2. p. 7.5: aim specified—to “sho[w] how a political situation would arise out of a nonpolitical one”
      3. An explanation does not have to be correct to be illuminating (p. 8.2; see also p. 9.1).
  3. chapter 2: “The State of Nature”
    1. Locke’s “inconveniences” (pp. 11.3–12.4)
    2. protective associations
      1. mutual-protection associations (p. 12.7)
      2. division of labor; entrepreneurs selling protective services (p. 13.7)
    3. the dominant protective association
      1. the emergence of a dominant protective association (p. 16.2–8)
      2. pp. 16.9–17.1: “Out of anarchy . . . there arises something very much resembling a minimal state.”
    4. invisible-hand explanations
      1. invisible-hand explanation of the use of money (p. 18.1–7)
      2. goal: invisible-hand explanation of the state (pp. 18.9–19.1)
      3. p. 19.7: characterization of invisible-hand explanations
    5. Is the dominant protective association a state?
      1. It does not claim a monopoly on the use of force—rights enforcement (pp. 23.5–24.7).
      2. It does not protect everyone in its domain—only those who pay (pp. 24.8–25.4).