Does Nozick not say that distributive justice is incompatible with the rights of individuals and he reduces the question of what justice is to an issue of violation of rights and things should be divided amongst everyone according to some abstract principle of justice?

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    What is the source of the quote in the first paragraph? Apr 8, 2018 at 0:31

1 Answer 1


Central to Nozick's position is a belief in individual property rights or 'holdings'. He believes that provided individuals have gained their property by just acquisition and just exchange - the conditions for which he lays down - their property should not be at the disposal of society or the state. It is owned by individuals as of right and is not a kind of collective cake (descending on the political table like a gift from heaven) that can be divided up for the benefit of others. 'To each according to their needs', 'To each according to their merits', or any other principle of distributive justice is inapplicable to private property. Society or the state is not entitled to use my property or yours to promote any ideals of distributive justice. The property is not theirs to distribute - it is mine or yours.

This is not an argument for selfishness. Nozick is perfectly happy for people to support charities and to use their property for the social good. He welcomes this. What he does not welcome is society's or the state's deciding that it is entitled to confiscate my property or yours through taxation or other means for the greater good.

I do not myself support Nozick's political ethics. I see my relation to the state and society differently. But does what I have said here by way of explanation make his views and their grounds clearer ?

  • Yes, your explanation makes his views and their grounds clearer. Thank you so much for the help.
    – Flow
    Apr 6, 2018 at 18:22

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