Robert Nozick

Robert Nozick

Robert Nozick

Robert Nozick

Synopsis

Although best known for the hugely influential Anarchy, State and Utopia, Robert Nozick (1938-2002) eschewed the label 'political philosopher' because the vast majority of his writings and attention have focused on other areas. Indeed the breadth of Nozick's work is perhaps greater than that of any other contemporary philosopher. This book is the first to give full and proper discussion of Nozick's philosophy as a whole, including his influential work on the theory of knowledge, his notion of 'tracking the truth', his metaphysical writings on personal identity and free will, his evolutionary account of rationality, his varying treatments of Newcomb's paradox and his ideas on the meaning of life. Illuminating and informative, the book will be welcomed as an authoritative guide to Nozick's philosophical thinking.

Excerpt

Like the other books in the series this book intends to give the student or interested layman a critical introduction to a major modern philosopher, covering his main works so far and discussing at least some of the main criticisms they have received. My own limitations, however, prevent me from treating Nozick’s more technical work on decision theory, especially in his early Dissertation. I have tried not to presuppose too much by way of philosophical background, although the argument does get fairly intricate at times and may then require some sympathetic hard work. The bibliography gives full details of the works mentioned in the text or in the guides to further reading.

Two readers, Dr Simon Hailwood of the University of Liverpool and Professor Scott Arnold of the University of Alabama, have provided some very helpful suggestions for improvements, mainly on the earlier chapters, and the summaries are in partial response to Professor Arnold. Dr Hailwood in particular made many detailed comments on the text, which have improved it considerably and saved me from a number of misinterpretations and errors. I am grateful to my colleagues for help on individual points, to the libraries of King’s College and the University of London, in particular, for their resources and helpful staff, and especially to Mrs Elizabeth Betts for heroic typings and retypings of my manuscripts. Dr John Shand, the series editor, invited me initially, and he and later Steven Gerrard have shepherded me through the project.

A. R. Lacey February 2001 . . .

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