Begging the Question with Style: Anarchy, State and Utopia at Thirty Years
Social Philosophy and Policy 22: 221-254 (2005)
Posted: 2 Apr 2004 Last revised: 18 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 17, 2012
At 30 years' distance, it is safe to say that Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia has achieved the status of a classic. It is not only the central text for all contemporary academic discussions of libertarianism; with Rawls's A Theory of Justice, it arguably frames the landscape of academic political philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. Many factors obviously account for the prominence of the book. This paper, written for a conference on Nozick and Natural Rights Liberalism, considers one: the book's use of rhetoric to charm and disarm its readers, simultaneously establishing Nozick's credibility with readers, turning them on his ideological opponents, and helping his argument over some of its more serious substantive difficulties. At the end, the paper briefly considers the legitimate role of rhetoric more generally in scholarly work.
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