Stability and Utopia; A Critique of Nozick’s Framework Argument

  • Mark Fowler


It is said that a critic of Darwin’s The Origin of Species dismissed the book by observing: ‘What is good in it is not new and what is new in it is not good’. The remark did a terrible injustice to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Now, however, there seems to be a theory to which it can be accurately applied. I refer to Nozick’s theory of the minimal state as a framework for Utopia.


Civil Society Minimal State Moral Education Liberal Society Classical Liberal 
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  1. 1.
    Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974), p. 297. Examples of other writers who questioned the ability of the night-watchman state to win wide support would be Rousseau (The Social Contract and The Second Discourse), Marx (The Jewish Question), Hegel (The Philosophy of Right), and Michael Walzer (Obligations).Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1945), 1:3.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Good brief summaries of Tocqueville’s ideas can be found in Raymond Aron’s Main Currents in Sociological Thought, vol. 1, Montesquieu, Comte, Marx, Tocqueville, the Sociologists, and the Revolution of 1848 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1968)Google Scholar
  4. Marvin Zetterbaum’s ‘Alexis de Tocqueville’, in History of Political Thought, ed. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey (Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1972).Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    See G. W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of Right, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), part 2Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    See The Federalist Papers, ed. Andrew Hacker (New York: Washington Square Press, 1972), esp. nos. 10 and 52.Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    See John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1971), p. 527.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1991

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  • Mark Fowler

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