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Robert Nozick

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</span> Robert Nozick (November 16, 1938January 23, 2002) was an American philosopher and Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University. Nozick, schooled at Columbia, Oxford and Princeton, was a prominent American political philosopher in the 1970s and 1980s. He did additional but less influential work in such subjects as decision theory and epistemology. His Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) was a libertarian answer to John Rawls' A Theory of Justice, published in 1971. He was born in Brooklyn, the son of a Jewish entrepreneur from Russia. He was married to the American poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg. Nozick died in 2002 after a prolonged struggle with cancer.

Philosophical achievementsEdit

Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, which garnered a National Book Award the following year, argues among other things, that a distribution of goods is just, so long as the distribution was brought about by free exchanges by consenting adults and was made from a just starting position, even if large inequalities emerge from the process. Nozick appealed to the Kantian idea that people should be treated as ends (what he termed 'separateness of persons'), not merely as a means. For example, forced redistribution of income treated people as if they were merely sources of money. Nozick here challenges John Rawls's arguments in A Theory of Justice that conclude that just inequalities in distribution must benefit the least well off. Nozick himself recanted the libertarian views he had earlier expressed in Anarchy, State, and Utopia in one of his later books, The Examined Life, calling those views "seriously inadequate." In a 2001 interview, however, he clarified his position: "What I was really saying in The Examined Life was that I was no longer as hardcore a libertarian as I had been before. But the rumors of my deviation (or apostasy!) from libertarianism were much exaggerated." [1]

Nozick was notable for his curious, exploratory style and methodological ecumenism. Often content to raise tantalizing philosophical possibilities and then leave judgment to the reader, Nozick was also notable for inventively drawing from literature outside of philosophy (e.g., economics, physics, evolutionary biology) to infuse his work with freshness and relevance.

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