Nozick’s Libertarian Project

My new book, Nozick’s Libertarian Project: An Elaboration and Defense, seeks to show that only a rights-based libertarianism can provide fully satisfactory answers to the fundamental questions that lie at the heart of political theory.  As implied by this study’s title, its focal point is the case for the minimal libertarian state made by Robert Nozick in his classic Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

However, given the vast amount of recent scholarship that has been produced in response to Nozick’s anti-egalitarian arguments, and the existence of certain widely acknowledged gaps in Nozick’s reasoning, the claims presented in ASU can constitute only be the starting point for a persuasive formulation of the individualist philosophy. To advance this project it is necessary to supplement Nozick’s arguments and to rebut the wide range of objections that have been raised against this theory, including the influential critique of G.A. Cohen.

After reviewing these arguments in depth, Nozick’s Libertarian Project concludes that, properly understood, libertarianism does not have the dire consequences attributed to it, and that in fact this view holds the moral high ground.  At several points in this effort I received critical support and assistance from Matt Zwolinski, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego, and editor of the textbook Arguing About Political Philosophy (New York and London: Routledge, 2009).  His help is gratefully acknowledged.

Although I am sure that Matt has substantial disagreement with many of the positions I take in my book, he was kind enough to write the following about it:

Nozick’s Libertarian Project is the only book of which I am aware that attempts to defend and build upon the kind of neo-Lockean, market-friendly libertarianism articulated in Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Given the importance of the topic, this book should be of great interest to academics working in political philosophy. And given the accessibility of its style and the popular interest in libertarianism, it will be excellent reading for a more general audience as well.

My publisher, Continuum International, has created a widget that provides a substantial preview of the book’s contents, and it is available on the right sidebar.

Continuum has targeted the first (hardcover) edition of Nozick’s Libertarian Project to academic libraries that can spread the cost over many thousands of potential readers. Thus, it is (unfortunately) very expensive.  An inexpensive paperback edition will be available by the end of this year. It is also currently available electronically through Amazon for its Kindle device, and through Continuum in EPUB and Adobe  Reader versions: