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Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

5. The Distribution of Property  

This chapter examines the concept of distributive justice, asking in particular whether citizens should have the liberty to acquire and dispose of property however they see fit, or whether there are justified restrictions on economic activity in the name of liberty or justice. It begins with a discussion of the problem of distributive justice, taking into account a variety of differing opinions on how a liberal society should distribute property, along with the so-called income parade. It then considers property and markets, focusing on John Locke's ideas, and the free market principle. It also explores John Rawls's theory of justice and some of the criticisms levelled against him, including those by Robert Nozick.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

5. Freedom and Justice  

Robert Garner

This chapter examines two related, but distinct, political concepts — justice and freedom. It first considers various possible constraints on freedom before discussing the degree to which freedom is desirable. It then explores various alternative values that might conflict with freedom, mainly in the context of John Stuart Mill’s political thought; these include equality, paternalism, and happiness. The chapter proceeds by analysing the concept of justice and various criteria for determining its meaning in the context of the major competing theories of justice provided by John Rawls and Robert Nozick. Finally, it evaluates alternative theories of justice which challenge the conventional liberal view that theories of justice should focus only on the nation-state and are applicable only to human beings.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

5. Freedom and Justice  

Robert Garner

This chapter examines two related, but distinct, political concepts—justice and freedom. It first considers various possible constraints on freedom before discussing the degree to which freedom is desirable. It then explores various alternative values that might conflict with freedom, mainly in the context of John Stuart Mill’s political thought; these include equality, paternalism, and happiness. The chapter proceeds by analysing the concept of justice and various criteria for determining its meaning in the context of the major competing theories of justice provided by John Rawls and Robert Nozick. Finally, it evaluates alternative theories of justice which challenge the conventional liberal view that theories of justice should focus only on the nation-state and are applicable only to human beings.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

4. Libertarianism  

This chapter focuses on libertarianism and its main assumptions. According to libertarians, people have a right to dispose freely of their goods and services, and that they have this right whether or not it is the best way to ensure productivity. Put another way, government has no right to interfere in the market, even in order to increase efficiency. The chapter begins with a discussion of the diversity of right-wing political theory, with particular emphasis on Robert Nozick’s entitlement theory of justice and his intuitive argument. It then considers the idea of a right to liberty and the contractarian idea of mutual advantage, along with Nozick’s principle of ‘self-ownership’. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the politics of libertarianism, taking into account its rejection of the principle of rectifying unequal circumstances, even as it shares with liberal equality a commitment to the principle of respect for people’s choices.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

5. The Distribution of Property  

This chapter examines the concept of distributive justice, asking in particular whether citizens should have the liberty to acquire and dispose of property however they see fit, or whether there are justified restrictions on economic activity in the name of liberty or justice. It begins with a discussion of the problem of distributive justice, taking into account a variety of differing opinions on how a liberal society should distribute property, along with the so-called income parade. It then considers property and markets, focusing on John Locke’s ideas, and the free market principle. It also explores John Rawls’s theory of justice and some of the criticisms levelled against him, including those by Robert Nozick.