In his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia, American philosopher Robert Nozick (1938–2002) develops an entitlement theory of justice, a libertarian theory of justice centered on individual inalienable rights (including, first and foremost, liberty). As an entitlement theory, it is concerned with the justice of one’s transactions. Nozick’s entitlement theory has three elements: (1) acquisition, (2) transfers, and (3) rectification, described in greater detail in this entry.

Nozick’s theory can be classified as historical and unpatterned. Nozick constructs a typology of theories of justice in which he distinguishes between historical and unhistorical (i.e., end-state or current time-slice) principles of distributive justice, as well as patterned and unpatterned principles. All four combinations of principles of distributive justice are possible, but Nozick defends his own historical unpatterned theory against ...

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