Emergence as a moral theory: reappraising Robert Nozick’s foundational liberalism

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Abstract

This article argues Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia should be understood as a work of ideal theory that proposed emergence as a new moral foundation for liberal thought and practice. Nozick believed a justification of the state derived from a hypothetical account of its emergence without violating anyone’s rights was more plausible than the claim that the state was legitimate because it had, or could be imagined to have, unanimous consent. It is argued Nozick’s account of the emergence of the state was more accomplished than is usually thought and an appreciation of its purpose and success negates established objections to his book as an inherently flawed, crude defence of the inequalities of contemporary capitalist societies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPUBLIC AFFAIRS QUARTERLY
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Nov 2023

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