Saturday, 26 May 2012
Nozick, Hayek and a little dose of Kant
Having initially been quite enthusiastic for Robert Nozick's ideas in Anarchy, State and Utopia, the prospect of taking a politics course at University focusing on precisely the issues of fairness, the role of the state and the justifications for equality (on different levels) was something I really looked forward to. I was surprised then, to come to the conclusion that I'd been somewhat too keen on Nozick's ideas, with which there are a number of obvious problems. I found particular difficulties reconciling Nozick's jump between a Kantian notion of the rational agent and self-ownership. Though largely a sceptic of utilitarian-type arguments, it certainly left me feeling more receptive towards the pragmatic justifications for an emphasis on the individual in society like those posited by Hayek.
Being at Glasgow University I didn't expect an environment to be receptive to libertarian ideas, but all things considered, discussion was far more constructive than one might expect. There were a few moments where I simply switched off (such as when someone suggested that the Poll Tax brought down the last Conservative government even though they, you know, won again in 1992) but the level of critical engagement, rather than simply fawning hysteria you come to anticipate was pleasing.
I'll probably refine my thoughts on this over the summer and beyond, but if you want to see my initial thoughts, you can find them in the link below: