Robert Nozick’s framework for utopias

Robert Nozick’s framework for utopias has the following features:

  • The main problem in any utopian project is people are different, and their preferences for an ideal community also differ;
  • Utopia will consist of many different and divergent communities in which people lead different kinds of lives under different institutions;
  • People in these utopias are free to leave;  and
  • If they do not enjoy any of the utopian worlds currently available, they can create the world they would prefer to live in.

Nozick’s framework tries to open up as many options as possible for as many people as possible, with people free to leave for what they think is a better place.


Utopias are many federal systems with a right to emigrate to other states or countries. Is people and their talents, education and capital being free to leave really part of a progressive Left utopia?

Freedom has many difficulties, and democracy is not perfect.

But we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us!

JFK – ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ Speech

Any utopia must have exit, voice and loyalty. That has been the case as the world embraced free market policies and democracy since 1980. A major step towards utopias was the collapse of communism and the rejection of big government.

Exit, competition from abroad, and new entry are the cornerstones of utopias.

The progressive Left talks of a single utopia with a great sense of community but also with a certain disdain for tax exiles.

The libertarian Right talks of utopias where people lead lives under different institutions they can vote in and out or reject and just migrate to somewhere better. Everyone can live their lives in accordance with their own preferences. Welfare state utopias are free to compete with Hong Kong style utopias. Good luck.

This entry was posted in liberalism, Rawls and Nozick and tagged , by Jim Rose. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jim Rose

Utopia - you are standing in it promotes a classical liberal view of the world and champion the mass flourishing of humanity through capitalism and the rule of law. The origin of the blog is explained in the first blog post at

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.