History and Pattern

David Schmidtz, University of Arizona
October 3rd, 2003, 4:00 to 5:00 pm
Ellis 113

The agenda for current philosophical work on justice was set in the 1970’s by John Rawls and Robert Nozick. Nozick said, “Political philosophers now must either work within Rawls’s theory or explain why not.” There is truth in Nozick’s compliment, yet when it came to explaining why not, no one did more than Nozick. What I’ll stress in this talk is that Nozick agrees with Rawls on the indispensable core of natural rights liberalism: namely, that we are separate persons. However, Rawls and Nozick interpret that idea in different ways—momentously different ways. The tension between their interpretations is among the forces shaping political philosophy to this day.

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