Talk:Robert Nozick

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Rent Control?[edit]

It seems like the Rent Control section is either unnecessary or implicitly anti-Nozick. I can't see how it helps someone understand Nozick or his works. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:42, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Hedonistic critique?[edit]

The Swedish wikipedia page of Hedonism ([1]) uses a thought experiment made by Robert Nozick as an example of "the final blow against hedonism". However, this page doesn't mention hedonism, neither does the hedonism page mention Robert Nozick. What's going on here? Is the Swedish wikipedia entry wrong in its statements, or should this information be added to this page (or the hedonism page)? The thought experiment as seen in the swedish hedonism article isn't even mentioned here. Maybe the thought experiment is famous in Sweden but not elsewhere? (if so, the swedish article should be changed to fix Swedish pov). Ran4 (talk) 23:01, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

He redefines Hedonism to suit his own purposes and then attacks that straw man. "Pleasure is good" does not mean the same thing as "Not-pleasure is not-good," which is the position he attacks. At his level of education it is difficult to believe that he was unaware of that essential fault. (talk) 06:33, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

I believe the refutation of hedonism that it's referring to is his experience machine thought experiment, which is well regarded and is, I see, currently included in the utilitarianism section of Nozick's wiki entry. Normative hedonism does not argue that "pleasure is good" but rather "pleasure is the good," the only intrinsic good, and the sole basis on which actions, experiences, etc. are valued. Under a hedonistic system, all pleasure and only pleasure contributes to an agent's good. Such a system would be effectively refuted if it can be shown that something other than pleasure has value, which is what Nozick attempts to do in the experiment. Whether he succeeds in doing so is still up for debate, but it's not a straw man and, as it has been influential, is appropriately included here. Warm Worm (talk) 07:16, 2 March 2011 (UTC)


Someone should add the citation to PE (1981) in the bibio.

Nate: I was the original poster and also the author of the liberty guide article on Nozick, and IHS encourages duplication, so no worries of copyright infringement. -- Will Wilkinson

Repudiation of libertarianism[edit]

Didn't Nozick eventually repudiate his own libertarian views in favor of a Rawlsian liberalism? :)

Haha. Nice try. "What I was really saying in The Examined Life was that I was no longer as hardcore a libertarian as I had been before. But the rumors of my deviation (or apostasy!) from libertarianism were much exaggerated." [2] --zenohockey 18:56, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Zenohockey rightly gave the quotation from Nozick which qualified his "repudiation of libertarianism," yet the main article (as it stands now) suggests that he's some kind of collectivist, or at minimum does not give any mention whatsoever to Nozick's actual words on his views on libertarianism (see above quote). The main article must be edited because it is a biased attempt to establish a kind of death-bed conversion of Nozick (which Nozick flatout says is wrong, per the above quotation). Furthermore, THE CITATION ASSOCIATED with the claim is a SLATE ARTICLE. Citing SLATE is like citing a Vice documentary; it is not a permissible, scholarly or accepted source. We should source Nozick's actual thoughts in EL, or some more reputable sources. Please discuss ASAP, or else I will have to edit unilaterally. (talk) 15:48, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Tibor Machan's Nozick obit ('The Man Who Made Libertarianism Academically Respectable') Wolf DeVoon (talk) 18:59, 3 August 2014 (UTC)


Um ... shouldn't it say that he was a professor of philosophy? There are such things as professors of other subjects, after all, even if those who spend all their time studying one subject may sometimes forget that. Michael Hardy 20:01 May 7, 2003 (UTC)

He held a University Professorship at Harvard; these chairs are not connected to particular schools, departments or subjects. "Pellegrino University Professor" was his actual title. Similar positions exist at Columbia and MIT (where they are called "Institute Professorships") among others, and none of them modify the title by adding "of" anything.


Removed possible copyright infringement. Text that was previously posted here is the same as text that was previously on this webpage:
Now cached at:

To the poster: If there was permission to use this material under terms of our license or if you are the copyright holder of the externally linked text, then please indicate so.

It also should be noted that the posting of copyrighted material that does not have the express permission from the copyright holder is possibly illegal and is a violation of our policy. Those with a history of violations may be temporarily suspended from editing pages. If this is in fact an infringement of copyright, we still welcome any original contributions by you.

--Nate 15:19 Nov 26, 2002 (UTC)

Broken link[edit]

The link to is broken -- there is an article with a similar title at Don't know whether to link to that and whether to change the text of the link to reflect the slightly different title. Fpahl 23:19, 10 May 2004 (UTC)

I've made this change now. Fpahl 17:48, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)

MOS concerns[edit]

I reverted/changed some of the recent changes. The style manual on dashes suggests using ndashes for date ranges. While Nozick is mainly known for his libertarian views, he was (as the article goes on to say) a philosopher of many things, not a philosopher of libertarianism. His contributions to the theory of libertarianism are adequately treated in the article; I don't think this restrictive label in the first sentence does him justice. (I also don't like the style of starting a sentence with a comma-separated description of someone, especially if that someone is not the grammatical subject of the sentence -- but that's another matter :-) Fpahl 18:02, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Dead links[edit]

  1. About Nozick's critique of John Rawls
  2. Two Conceptions of Justice

Both links are dead...

Can't Find Loretta Torrago and Her Article, "Two Conceptions of Justice"[edit]

I had to remove the following external link

Two Conceptions of Justice compares Nozick's and Rawls's theories of justice

because it no longer works. The link pointed to an Iowa State server, but I can't find any pages by or about her at that university. Some parts of the web seem to suggest she may be an adjunct professor in philosophy and religious studies at Iowa State, but she's not listed on State's official web page for the department. And I can't find the article anywhere else on the web either.

If anyone else knows how to find it, that'd be neat. But I think I'm giving up.

--Ryguasu 23:03, 3 Apr 2005 (UTC)

He's not listed on the American Philosophers page. I couldn't work out how to do this. Can someone else?

Using, I found an archived copy of Two Conceptions of Justice at If possible, I would suggest someone mirror it the permission of the author.

I was a student of Torrago's in the Spring of 2003 at Iowa State. She had a baby that semester, and I don't think she came back after that. I believe "Lecturer" was her official title while she was there. --Aplarsen 04:50, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

Fourth subjunctive conditional for knowledge[edit]

I'm reading Nozick's "Knowledge and Scepticism" and it seems patent that there are four, not three conditions for knowledge, the fourth being that (4) if p were true, S would believe it. Or, phrased differently later on, after the discussion on differing methods for arriving at a belief about p, (4) If p were true and S were to use M to arrive at a belief whether (or not) p, then S would believe, via M, that p.

Did Nozick abandon this position, and is that why the article lists only three conditions?

To my knowledge, he did not abandon it. It should be included, since it was an important condition to avoid certain obscure counter-examples: such as the example of the person strapped into the matrix, where the matrix is telling their brain that they are in the matrix. --causa sui talk 00:43, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't see what the fourth condition adds, given that he already assumes P — can someone explain this, preferably in the article? PJTraill (talk) 21:20, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

Nozick and Objectivist philosophy???[edit]

As far as I know, Nozick did not adhere to the Randian philosophy stuff, and actually criticised it. I would like to see evidence before he is categorised as an "Objectivist scholar". -- Palthrow 14:35, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

You're right, he didn't adhere to it; the category is "ObjectivisM Scholars" not "ObjectivisT scholars"; it's for people who have written about Objectivism in an academic context, whether or not they agree with it. Look at the category. LaszloWalrus

it doesn't matter, this is consensus. what is going on with that category anyway? it doesn't seem to fit the philosophy categorization schemes... where did it come from? --Buridan 04:36, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
It is the result of POV pushing by an aggressive Ayn Randian. He wants to label everyone who has discussed Ayn Rand with this category, obviously to exaggerate Rand's (very poor) academic reputation. Just yesterday, I dissuaded the user from categorizing Camille Paglia in the way, a literary critic who has only mentioned Rand a few times in the thousands of pages that she has written. — goethean 15:28, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

'Epistemological theory' removed from page[edit]

This addition to the article needs a copyedit and a reference. The copyedit will be easy. Perhaps someone knows something about Nozick's epistemological views and where he wrote abuot them and could add extra information and a reference, then put it back on the page? Anarchia 21:21, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Epistemological Theory[edit]

Nozick said that conditions that make S's true belief that p counts as knowledge are the counts factuals (a) P were not ture, S wouldent believe it. P were still true in somewhat different circumstances S, would still believe it, and not believe that not P. Just lookup Gettier

Rawls' First Principle[edit]

I've removed the following sentence from the article: "Rawls' main concern was the First Principle which basically agrees with Nozick's libertarianism that "each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for other." "

The talk about "Rawls' main concern," while I think it probably meant to reference the primacy he gave the First Principle over the Difference Principle, made it sound like Rawls somehow "wasn't concerned" with the latter or didn't think it highly important, which is false. Given that the comment itself gave little real information about Nozick's relation to Rawls and, if anything, was purely misleading, I thought it best to take it out. (talk) 04:06, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Pro-Slavery Activist?[edit]

I found the categorization of Nozick being a "Pro-Slavery Activist" I think mildly inflammatory. Again, I cannot base this observation on any familiarity with his work besides that which is stated in the article. However, the observation that an individual can have the freedom to relinquish freedom does no necessarily make him a pro-slavery activist. Unless more information can be found that qualifies him as such, I would recommend a suspension of that tag. (talk) 05:00, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Agree. It's obviously a case of someone with an axe to grind blackening the man's rep. -- Palthrow (talk) 18:00, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Nozick, Jewish?[edit]

Where in this article does it say that Nozick is religiously Jewish, or even that he is in fact Jewish in an ethnic sense. His mother, I don't think is Jewish. I have not found any evidence or information supporting the claim that she is. Thus, he is as German/Swedish as he is Jewish, given the last name, Schnackenberg. Please verify the statement that this man is in fact Jewish in any real sense of the word, or at least, if it merely takes the genetic influence of some ancestor to render one this ethnicity or that, please make the point that he is not completely Jewish and that his mother is in fact German. Besides, his mother is no immigrant, born in Oregon, not exactly a hotbed for Jews. A lot of German Americans live there though. Such claims should at least be investigated. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:09, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Good point; I've removed the related categories pending confirmation, per WP:BLP. All that remains is that his father was a Jewish entrepreneur.  Skomorokh, barbarian  05:19, 27 October 2009 (UTC)


The article lacks a photograph for Robert Nozick. I believe this website used to use the photograph of Nozick that appeared in his obituary in the Harvard Gazette -- in my opinion, this was a good photograph to use with this article -- was it deleted due to copyright issues? If not, then the photo should be used again. (I would like to try to fix these things myself, but I'm not sure how to proceed. Any help would be most appreciated!). Osterg (talk) 20:42, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

The obituary in the Harvard Gazette (mentioned above) is Note #5, for this article. The link to the obituary is a dead link, but the obituary can still be located online at the following address:

(I would fix this myself, but I'm not yet sure how. Any help would be appreciated!) Osterg (talk) 20:47, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Removal of Metcalf Citation?[edit]

It looks like we have a poorly sourced allegation in this article. The sentence is as follows:

"According to Stephen Metcalf, in the chapter The Zigzag of Politics, Nozick expresses serious misgivings about capitalist libertarianism, going so far as to reject much of the foundations of the theory on the grounds that personal freedom can sometimes only be fully actualized via a collectivist politics and that wealth is at times justly redistributed via taxation to save an overly selfish minority from itself."

Rather than citing an opinion article, it would make more sense to cite the actual content itself which purportedly vindicates Metcalf's personal opinion.

And does anyone know what Nozick meant by the "collectivist politics" that allow freedom under some circumstances or did Metcalf make that up himself? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:29, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

See WP:PSTS regarding the use of attributed secondary sources rather than primary sources. Rostz (talk) 15:27, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

utilitarianism refutation has a source earlier than Nozick?[edit]

The Nozick article states: 'Utilitarianism[:] Nozick ... devised the thought experiment of The Experience Machine [Anarchy book, 1974] in an attempt to show that ethical hedonism was false. Nozick asked us to imagine that "superduper neuropsychologists" have figured out a way to stimulate a person's brain to induce pleasurable experiences.'

A decade earlier, in 1961, Walter Kaufmann proposed a highly similar idea: 'suppose that it were possible to ensure the greatest possible happiness of the greatest possible number ... whether by drugs ... or by operations ... . ... Those of us who feel that happiness, however important, is not the ultimate consideration [feel] that it would be an impermissible betrayal ... .' Faith Of A Heretic, The (1961), at p.218

Maybe the above observation will prompt someone to make some edits or additions either to the Nozick article or the Kaufmann article. Bo99 (talk) 17:35, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

I changed the wording from 'created' to 'described'. — goethean 19:24, 11 July 2013 (UTC)


Is it /'nɒzɪk/ or /'nɔːzɪk/ or /'noʊzɪk/ ? --Trovatore (talk) 22:12, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

That is a better question for the reference desk. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 07:31, 2 October 2015 (UTC)