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POLS202 EXAM ESSAY ONE: Robert Nozick + Relevant Information
Terms in this set (36)
What does Robert Nozick argue?
Nozick argues against what he calls 'patterned' and 'end-state' conceptions of justice. Nozick claims that Rawl's conception of justice is an end-state conception, requiring that the state arrange society so as to produce a certain result (maximizing the prospects of the least advantaged). But any such conception of justice, Nozick argues, is bound to be unfair to some people.
Rights are Primary
Individuals have rights, and there are things that no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights). So strong and far-reaching are those rights that they raise the question of what, if anything, the state and the officials may do
Rights must be respected because
Reflect the underlying Kantian principle that individuals are ends and not merely means, they may not be sacrificed or used for the achieving of other ends without their consent
Similar to Rawls - against utilitarianism. Rights are absolute (particularly property rights). Minimal State - no business in providing public education, health care, transport, parks or utilities
Nozick's Three Principles
1. Free transfer
2. Just acquisition
Entitlement Theory of Justice
1. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in acquisition is entitle to that holding
2. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in transfer from someone entitled to the holding is entitled to the holding
3. No one is entitled to the holding except by application of 1 and 2
In general when is distribution just?
If everyone is entitled to the holdings they possess under the distribution
What are examples of illegitimate modes of transfer?
Force, fraud, theft, enslavement
The entitlement theory of justice contrasts with
time-scale principles of justice, patterned or end state distributive principles i.e. MARX or RAWLS theories
Nozick on forced labor
Taxation of earnings from labor is on par with forced labor
Nozick on taxation and forced labor
The man who chooses to work longer to gain an income more than sufficient for his basic needs prefers some extra goods or services to the leisure and activities he could perform during the possible non-working hours; whereas the man who chooses not to work the extra time prefers the leisure activities to the extra goods or services he could acquire by working more. Given this, if it would be illegitimate for a tax system to seize some of a man's leisure (forced labor) for the purpose of serving the needy, how can it be legitimate for a tax system to seize some of a man's goods for that purpose? Why should we treat the man whose happiness requires certain material goods or services differently from the man whose preferences and desires make such goods unnecessary for his happiness? Why should the man who prefers seeing a movie (and who has to earn money for the ticket) be open to the required call to aid the needy, while the person who prefers looking at a sunset (and need no extra money) is not?
Wilt Chamberlain Example
Dunedin people want Walt to play for their football team and are willing to pay 25c extra for their tickets. If Wilt accepts he will therefore be $25,000 richer. If this inequality is only accepted if it benefits the worse off then the state is interfering in the desire of the Dunedin people to give their money to whoever they wish. This would be a violation of Nozicks theory of rights to property and freedom
Nozick's three principles
1. Rights are primary
2. Entitlement theory of justice
3. Principle of Self ownership
Principle of self ownership
people own themselves, the world is initially un-owned, one can acquire an absolute right of a disproportionate share of the world if one doesn't worsen the material conditions of others, it is relatively easy to acquire a disproportionate share of the world, once this is done the free market is morally required, only legitimate state is a minimal one
Criticisms of Nozick
Standards are worsening? - can result in subordination and dependence on the will of others even though materially no worse off.
Furthermore it doesn't occur to him that people might relate to land in other than material terms e.g. spiritual ones such as seen in indigenous populations. No monetary compensation would make up for the loss of their spiritual connection to the land
Consequences of Criticisms
Nozick has to admit that most land has been historically acquired by force.
Nozick tried to secure a moral principle to justify capitalism but the result is an infinite regress of just acquisition.
Radical implications - return Australia to the Aborigines, New England to native Americans etc.
Are given to us by a legitimate authority and enforced. To establish if a person has the right to have, or to do a thing or act, it is necessary to demonstrate that there is a written rule which warrants, entitles or enables that person to have or do the thing or act in question. If there is no written law then there is no right
Jerry Bentham opinion on rights
There are no right without law or government. Rights are conventional, not natural, thus they are given to us by society
To say you have a human right is a moral claim, that certain human capacities are of such moral importance that they should be respected. They are inalienable, innate and indefeasible. They are pre-social and hence not a product of human construction. The legitimacy of the government depends on them upholding our natural and innate human rights. Natural rights are absolute and thus prevail over any other consideration. They are universal.
Human beings are born with them, rights are a part of our basic equipment, like our bodies. Take away our rights and we will be denied the capacity to be fully human
Rights cannot be voluntarily exchanged, transferred or renounced
Cannot be annulled by others. Puts the burden on other members of society to honor rights in question
Freedom from constraint. I am said to be free to the degree to which no man or body of men interferes with my activity. Political Liberty in this sense is simply the area within which a man can act unobstructed by others. It I am prevented by others from doing what i could otherwise do, I am to that degree un-free. Negative freedom has the goal of warding off interference. Although liberals accept the need for some laws, there must be a minimum area of non-interference. Law is seen as the main obstacle to freedom. Freedom is limited only to what others prevent us from doing
The Harm Principle was written by
John Stuart Mill
The Harm Principle
The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty or action of any of their number, is self-protection. That is the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.
Self Regarding Acts
Acts which only directly affect oneself and should not be interfered with
Acts which affect others directly and directly harm them in a physical sense and need to be restricted
Freedom to Act. Equivalent to democracy
1. POWER TO ACT
2. RATIONAL SELF-DIRECTION
3. COLLECTIVE SELF DETERMINATION
Freedom to Act
Freedom is the power to act in certain ways, as contrasted with mere absence of interference. Freedom is rational self direction, the condition of which a person's life is governed by rational desires as opposed to the desires that he just matter or fact has. Freedom as collective self determination, the condition where each person plays a part in controlling his social environment through democratic institutions.
Freedom and opportunities
In order to exercise our opportunities we also need to be free from constraints. State intervention is necessary, however, to ensure that we have a wide range of opportunities open to us.
The less others interfere in our sphere of action, the more free we are. Yet, no interference = social chaos
Function of Law in negative liberty
To prevent collisions between individuals all pursuing their freedom. Public/private divide
"Man is born free but is everywhere in chains"
MacCallum's freedom formula
X is free from Y to do or be Z
The abuse of freedom. It is the point in which freedom become excessive.
Nozick sees freedom
in simply economic terms and advocate the greatest possible freedom of choice in the marketplace
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