Essential Nozick: The Minimal State
Welcome to the essential ideas of Robert Nozick.
One of Nozick's key insights was reconciling the importance of individual rights,
and providing a rationale for government. He argued that only when government is
restricted to protecting it's citizen's rights can it exist
without violating those same rights - and he called this form of government the Minimal State.
For Nozick, this means that the state provides protective services like policing and national
defence for all citizens. And, that it is the only entity permitted to use force.
Some people today advocate for an expanded role for government, including: regulating what people
can buy and sell, with whom they can trade, and how much can be charged for a product or service.
For Nozick, all these functions violate people's rights. He also recognized that governments
are often pressured “to do something” deemed to be in “society's interests.”
For instance, many people support regulation of businesses in terms of what they sell,
how they sell, where they sell, etc. But Nozick believed that regardless
of the benefit, it is never ok to violate the rights of people.
And only in the Minimal State (where the government's role is solely to
protect people's rights) could government exist without violating those rights.
For more information on Robert Nozick, visit EssentialNozick.org, and to learn about
more essential scholars, visit EssentialScholars.org