The Entitlement Theory of Justice in Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia

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Nozick’s entitlement theory of justice has its major attempts to defend the institution of private property and to criticize the redistributive measures on the part of government. Nozick frowns at Rawls’ approach and the approach of welfare economics, which focused on evaluating only current time-slices of a distribution with no concern about the procedural aspects of justice. His notion of distributive justice has its anchorage on the account of what and how a given person is entitled to in virtue of what he has acquired and earned. While Rawls, whose position seems incompatible with that of Nozick holds a notion of justice on the account of the equality of the claims of each person in respect of basic needs and of the means to meet such needs. Nozick’s theory is a reaction against Rawls’ notion of distributive justice which he terms patterned, and of which he feels if upheld would consistently interfere with individual’s rights. This paper therefore argues that contrary to what Robert Nozick seems to suggest we do not see his theory as all satisfying nor any alternative, rather we are convinced that the inherent merits of his theory would suitably complement other patterned theories of distributive justice. This paper employed the expository method as well as critical analysis and prescriptive methods.
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Archival date: 2019-09-15
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