Nozick’s theory of justice (part 1)

Nozick begins Chapter 7 with a point of terminological order. He explains why he prefers the phrase “justice in holdings” over the term “distributive justice” (pp. 149-150, emphasis in original): “There is no central distribution, no person or group entitled to control all the resources [of a society], jointly deciding how they are to be doled out…. In a free society, diverse persons control different resources, and new holdings arise out of the voluntary exchanges and actions of persons…. The total result is the product of many individual decisions.” Next, Nozick presents an outline of his entitlement theory of justice in holdings on pp. 150-153. Here, he notes that a theory of justice in holdings must address three issues:

  1. The initial acquisition of holdings (the appropriation or ownership over unheld things or “justice in acquisition”);
  2. The transfer of holdings from one person to another (or “justice in transfer”); and
  3. The rectification of injustices in the acquisition or transfer of holdings (or “rectification of injustice”).

So far, so good! Yet, ironically, Nozick then concedes on p. 153 that he is not going to attempt the task of specifying the details of each of these three major areas of justice. Really? If he’s not going to delve into these details, then what in God’s name is Nozick going to do in the remainder of Chapter 7? We will press on tomorrow …

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Credit: shama.paro (Agra University)

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4 Responses to Nozick’s theory of justice (part 1)

  1. Craig says:

    Just FYI Enrique, I just ordered Rawls’ Theory of Justice and Nozick’s ASU so these will probably be my next reads after I finish Ray Fuller’s poetry collection. Hope you and family are well.

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