Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Jonathan Wolff on Radical Reaction to Nozick's Arguments
The reactions of radicals to Nozick's criticisms will be mixed. Few, probably, will give up all their objections in the face of Nozick's replies. Many will simply refuse to listen. But those who have been prepared to do so have had to think very hard to find replies. One virtue of Nozick's work is that a great deal of honing and sharpening has had to be done to improve the rigour of radical objections to capitalism, once Nozick's defences are taken into account. It is no longer acceptable to criticize capitalism by platitude.
(Jonathan Wolff, Robert Nozick: Property, Justice and the Minimal State, Key Contemporary Thinkers [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991], 133)
Note from KBJ: This is an interesting (and revealing) paragraph. Progressives are so convinced of their own rectitude, not to mention the correctness of their factual and conceptual claims, that they refuse to engage those who disagree with them. They create echo chambers for themselves in which all they hear are the echoes of their own voices. Academia, of all places, has become a progressive echo chamber. This is scandalous, for academia should be the one place where argumentation and criticism flourish, where every belief, hypothesis, theory, or point of view is both expressible and, just as importantly, criticizable. I suspect that many progressives would have been happier if Robert Nozick's book Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) had not been published. I've heard progressives say as much. They think the book will give libertarianism (a theory they despise) credibility it does not deserve (by their lights). (God forbid anyone should be persuaded by the book!) This is, of course, shocking. If your views and values are correct, then they will withstand criticism; so subject them to criticism! In the process of defending them, your argumentative and critical skills will be sharpened. I hope one day progressives realize that by being progressives first and intellectuals second, they do long-term damage to their ability to argue, criticize, analyze, and synthesize.