Anarchist philosophy represents a diverse set of viewpoints that are sceptical of political authority and power. Anarchism can be framed as purely negative theoretical idea, i.e. a rejection of the legitimacy of political authority. Adherents of this view, sometimes called ‘philosophical anarchism’, seek to show that arguments for the legitimacy of political authority are unsuccessful. This philosophical anarchism is nevertheless compatible, some suggest, with still maintaining that we are sometimes or indeed often morally justified in conforming with or upholding various state activities, e.g. following the criminal law or agreeing to redistributive taxation. Anarchism can also refer to various political positions that offer a positive vision of how humans should structure their interactions and the ideals to which we should aspire when we associate with our fellows. A broad distinction can be drawn between left-anarchism and anarcho-capitalism. Left-anarchism refers to a diverse family of views, many of which were historically influential as an ideological competitor to state-centric socialism and communism, that espouse distributive equality, common ownership of resources, and/or duties of reciprocity. A guiding preoccupation within left-anarchism explores how to secure social cooperation without leading to the type of domination that they claim is found under statist systems. Thus, left-anarchists broadly reject hierarchical relationships and emphasise relating to one another as free and equal individuals (a notion that has recently been revived in mainstream political philosophy under the guise of social or relational egalitarianism). Anarcho-capitalists, by contrast, place greater emphasis on the individual and negative liberty, focusing on how we can structure cooperation primarily through the mechanism of free market exchange. This emphasis distinguishes the anarcho-capitalist from the left-anarchist, as such negative freedom can be inimical to the collectivist ideals of left-anarchism. For example, anarcho-capitalists uphold the right of individuals to harness their natural talents and strike bargains in such a way as might eventually lead to considerable distributive inequality or the creation of various types of hierarchy. Theorists within this tradition are, among other things, concerned with arguing that market-based systems can efficiently solve classic problems traditionally addressed by the state, such as providing security, creating mutually desirable infrastructures, and solving various types of collective action problem.
Beyond these views, a diverse collection of thinkers develop anarchism in other directions, with varying degrees of compatibility with the positions outlined above. For example, some develop an egoistic version of anarchism as means of pursuing individual perfection, some view anarchism as a method for living in ecological harmony, and others, especially following the Tolstoyan tradition, see anarchism as the natural extension of their religious views.
|Key works||For scepticism about political authority, see Simmons 1979 or Huemer 2013. For a classic manifesto of left-anarchism, see Kropotkin 2015 or Proudhon 1994  (who coined the term 'anarchy' as an ideology). Individualistic anarchy is famously defended by Stirner unknown. For recent work on social egalitarianism, see Fourie et al 2015. Anarchism is usefully contrasted with both left and right-libertarian views that are sceptical of true anarchism, see Otsuka 2003 and Nozick 1974. For ecological anarchism, see Bookchin 1982.|
|Introductions||See Lefkowitz 2006 on the duty to obey the law. See Chapter 1 of Chomsky 2014 for a readable introduction to anarchist themes. Kropotkin 1910 provides synoptic discussion of anarchism.|
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