Robert Nozick (November 16, 1938 – January 23, 2002) was an American philosopher who was most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a professor at Harvard University. He is best known for his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), a libertarian answer to John Rawls' A Theory of Justice (1971). His other work involved decision theory and epistemology.
Nozick was born in Brooklyn, the son of a Jewish entrepreneur from the Russian shtetl who had been born with the name of Cohen. Nozick was married to the poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg. He died in 2002 after a prolonged struggle with stomach cancer. He is interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Nozick was educated at Columbia (A.B. 1959, summa cum laude), where he studied with Sidney Morgenbesser, and later at Princeton (Ph.D. 1963) under Carl Hempel, and at Oxford as a Fulbright Scholar (1963–1964).
For Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) Nozick received a National Book Award in category Philosophy and Religion. There, Nozick argues that only a minimal state "limited to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, fraud, enforcement of contracts, and so on" could be justified without violating people's rights. For Nozick, a distribution of goods is just if brought about by free exchange among consenting adults from a just starting position, even if large inequalities subsequently emerge from the process. Nozick appealed to the Kantian idea that people should be treated as ends (what he termed 'separateness of persons'), not merely as a means to some other end...
Quotes by Robert Nozick
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