September 9, 2010

March 2002 -- "Whoever makes something, having bought or contracted for all other held resources used in the process…is entitled to it. The situation is not one of something's getting made, and there being an open question of who is to get it. Things come into the world already attached to people having entitlements over them…. Those who start afresh to complete 'to each according to his ____' treat objects as if they appeared from nowhere, out of nothing."

I first read that passage in a book manuscript that was circulating in the Princeton University philosophy department in 1974. It reminded me of the words Ayn Rand put in the mouth of her hero in Atlas Shrugged :

"[I]ndividuals are ends and not merely means; they may not be sacrificed or used for the achieving of other ends without their consent. Individuals are inviolable."

-Robert Nozick

"The socialist society would have to forbid capitalist acts between consenting adults."  Nozick

Though he made ample use of economic theory in this critique, he wrote primarily from a moral point of view. Like Rand, he enraged the Left by denying them the moral high ground—and he did so with great wit. "The socialist society," said Nozick, "would have to forbid capitalist acts between consenting adults." In a discussion of the income tax as a device for redistribution, he argued that "taxation of earnings from labor is on a par with forced labor." On one issue after another, he punctured the political idealism of those who wanted government to pursue their vision of utopia; he did it by showing that any such program uses coercion to violate individual autonomy.

In the world of academic philosophy, Nozick became the most prominent advocate of libertarianism, the theorist with whom every other viewpoint had to contend. This was not because his case for freedom was fundamentally original. Many of the arguments he used can be found in the long tradition of classical liberalism, from John Locke in the seventeenth century to Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand in our own era. The reason for Nozick's prominence was principally that he cast the arguments in the method and style of analytic philosophy, the approach that dominates academic philosophy in English-speaking countries.

As the name suggests, analytic philosophers consider their job to be the close and detailed analysis of issues. They prize philosophical dissection: subtle distinctions, rigorous arguments, precise formulations of positions. Nozick was a master of this approach. He handled the scalpel of analysis with a speed and dexterity that awed his colleagues, even when they didn't like his views. And indeed, his book did much to clarify issues of distributive justice and the nature of the conflict between libertarians and egalitarians.

But the goal of close analysis creates occupational hazards. Analytic philosophers are often insensitive to the wider context of the issues they deal with and unwilling—or unable—to examine their own fundamental assumptions, concepts, and methods. As a result, they tend to take for granted the current state of play in their specialist domains, treating complex, derivative concepts and assumptions as axiomatic. Nozick was no exception.

This was nowhere clearer, to me at least, than in an early article he wrote criticizing Rand's moral and political philosophy. Nozick more or less completely failed to come to grips with Rand's theory, spinning his wheels in an effort to break apart her integrated view of human life and values. In Anarchy, State, and Utopia, the shortcoming of his method was most evident in his failure to explain why individuals are ends in themselves and why they are inviolable; his statement of the principle was about as far as he went. Nozick did not accept Rand's explanation that individuals are ends in themselves because life is metaphysically an end in itself, the fundamental value that each person seeks to realize. But he did not offer any alternative.

Nevertheless, Anarchy, State, and Utopia is a genuine classic in the literature of freedom. Robert Nozick fought the good fight with intellectual brilliance, moral idealism, and personal courage. Everyone else engaged in that fight owes him a large debt of gratitude.

This article was originally published in the March 2002 issue of
Navigator magazine, The Atlas Society precursor to The New Individualist.






David Kelley Ph.D
About the author:
David Kelley Ph.D

David Kelley founded The Atlas Society (TAS) in 1990 and served as Executive Director through 2016. In addition, as Chief Intellectual Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the content produced by the organization: articles, videos, talks at conferences, etc.. Retired from TAS in 2018, he remains active in TAS projects and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.


ケリーの哲学的著作には、倫理学、認識論、政治学の独創的な著作があり、その多くは客観主義の思想を新たな深みと方向性で発展させている。著書に 五感の証拠を、 認識論で論じたものです。 目的論における真理と寛容目的論運動の問題点に関するもの。 無抵抗の個人主義。博愛の利己的根拠そして 推理の極意論理学入門の教科書として広く利用されている論理学入門』も第5版となりました。

ケリーは、政治や文化に関する幅広いテーマで講演や出版を行っている。社会問題や公共政策に関する記事は、Harpers、The Sciences、Reason、Harvard Business Review、The Freeman、On Principleなどに掲載されています。1980年代には、Barrons Financial and Business Magazineに 、平等主義、移民、最低賃金法、社会保障などの問題について頻繁に執筆した。

彼の著書 A Life of One's Own:個人の権利と福祉国家福祉国家の道徳的前提を批判し、個人の自律性、責任、尊厳を守る私的な選択肢を擁護するものである。1998年、ジョン・ストッセルのABC/TVスペシャル「Greed」に出演し、資本主義の倫理に関する国民的議論を巻き起こした。

客観主義の専門家として国際的に知られ、アイン・ランドとその思想、作品について広く講演を行っている。の映画化ではコンサルタントを務めた。 アトラス・シュラッグドの編集者であり アトラス・シュラッグド小説、映画、哲学.



"Concepts and Natures:A Commentary onThe Realist Turn(by Douglas B. Rasmussen and Douglas J. Den Uyl)," Reason Papers 42, no.1, (Summer 2021); 近著のレビューで、概念の存在論と認識論への深掘りが含まれています。






The Party of Modernity, Cato Policy Report, May/June 2003; andNavigator, Nov 2003; プレモダン、モダン(啓蒙主義)、ポストモダンの文化的分裂に関する論文として広く引用されている。

"I Don't Have To"(IOS Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, April 1996) と "I Can and I Will"(The New Individualist, Fall/Winter 2011): 個人として自分の人生をコントロールすることを現実化するためのコンパニオン作品です。