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Deleting the State

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ISBN 0-8126-9614-X
ISBN-13 978-0-8126-9614-1

$29.95   paper

137 pages

(April 2008)

Deleting the State

An Argument about Government

Aeon J. Skoble

Is the state a necessary evil? Or can we hope to evolve beyond it? This book, in the tradition of Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, sheds new light on persistent philosophical questions about the nature and justification of political authority.

Analysis of various arguments for the state show that they explicitly or tacitly rest on what the author calls the Hobbesian Fear—the conviction that mutual warfare would emerge in the absence of political authority. If the Hobbesian Fear turns out to be unfounded, standard arguments for the necessity and moral legitimacy of the state will be undermined.

One embodiment of the Hobbesian Fear is the theory that social cooperation is menaced by Prisoner's-Dilemma-type situations. Yet advances in game theory suggest that if the Prisoner's Dilemma situation is repeated, cooperation usually becomes the winning strategy: practices and norms of social cooperation tend to emerge spontaneously.

"From practical examples to theoretical insights, it's hard to imagine anyone coming away from Deleting the State with a complacent attitude about the justifiability of having a state. Skoble succeeds in raising the right questions and grappling with the kinds of objections almost always assumed to be sufficient defense of the state. Skoble shows that all such defenses at least have weaknesses and that many, perhaps most, simply will not do."

—Douglas J. Den Uyl, author of Power, State, and Freedom: An Interpretation of Spinoza's Political Philosophy

"Deleting the State is a well-argued and well-written treatment of the justifications for government. Skoble finds all forms of coercive government incompatible with liberty, and provides arguments why peace, order, and respect for private property will be better achieved without government. Skoble one-ups Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, and provides an excellent introduction to the libertarian anarchist ideal. A must read for political philosophers, political economists, and anyone concerned with liberty."

—Edward Stringham, editor of Anarchy, State, and Public Choice

"Skoble is a philosopher in the best sense of that word. He is unafraid to think radically about fundamental questions, and he does so with great clarity and honesty. Deleting the State not only offers a powerful challenge to those who believe that there can be a morally legitimate state, but it also outlines what a legitimate political/legal order (with or without the state) would look like."

—Douglas B. Rasmussen, co-author of The Catholic Bishops and the Economy

Aeon J. Skoble is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts. He co-edited Woody Allen and Philosophy (2004), The Simpsons and Philosophy (2001), and Political Philosophy: Essential Selections (1999).

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