Abstract: In his article “Nozick’s Argument for the Legitimacy of the Welfare State,” Michael Davis seeks to establish a line of reasoning justifying an extensive state based largely on what he interprets to be Robert Nozick’s theory of entitlement. According to Davis, this argument can easily be constructed and merely depends on “seeing most so-called free-rider problems from a new angle, that of property.” If his view were defensible it would have implications far beyond questions regarding Nozick’s minimal state or even governmental authority and private enterprise. However, even if measured against Davis’ own criterion of adequacy, his argument fails. It fails because it violates the principle of liberty and builds on a misguided interpretation of compensation. This result is important not only in the context of the debate about right-libertarian restrictions on state functions, but also the free-riding debate more generally.
Download Paper: A Free-Rider Perspective on Property Rights