Minarchism is a libertarian political philosophy which advocates for a particular variety of minimal state that acts only to enforce a universal framework of natural and legal rights essential to the functioning of a free marketplace in economy and culture, and operating through a limited government societally managed according to democratic or republican principles. Such a state could also be called a minarchy. It is distinct from anarcho-capitalism, in which a de jure state would hypothetically not exist and so the conditions of capitalism or laissez-faire would not be centrally enforced.
Different minarchists may disagree about which functions should be exercised by a minimal state and to what extent, therefore there are different models of it. One of them is the night-watchman state, which is commonly defined as a state whose only legitimate function would be the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud and whose only legitimate governmental institutions would be the military, police, and courts.