more from Robert Nozick

Single Idea 21737

[catalogued under 25. Social Practice / C. Rights / 4. Property rights]

Full Idea

One may acquire a permanent bequeathable property right in a previously unowned thing, as long as the position of others no longer at liberty to use the thing is not thereby worsened.

Gist of Idea

Unowned things may be permanently acquired, if it doesn't worsen the position of other people


Robert Nozick (Anarchy,State, and Utopia [1974], p.178), quoted by G.A. Cohen - Are Freedom and Equality Compatible? 2

Book Reference

'Contemporary Political Philosophy (2nd ed)', ed/tr. Goodin,RE/Pettit,P [Blackwell 2006], p.418

A Reaction

Cohen attacks this vigorously. His main point is that Nozick has a very narrow view of what the acquisition should be compared with. There are many alternatives. Does being made unable to improve something 'worsen' a person's condition?