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Nozick, Robert (1938–2002)

Robert Nozick was a writer, a philosopher, and, at one time, a leading supporter of libertarian thought. Two Harvard professors resuscitated political philosophy in the American academy where interest had languished for decades under the sway of analytic philosophy. John Rawls, a distinguished academician, came to press first in 1971 with his somewhat ponderous tome, A Theory of Justice, which employed a variant of the “state of nature” argument to justify the liberal welfare state. In defending both individual liberty and redistribution, Rawls's arguments ignited a torrent of responses that have not abated in the ensuing decades. These critiques were written overwhelmingly by his fellow liberals or those further to the left who thought Rawls had not gone far enough toward collectivism. Surprisingly, however, Rawls's ...

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