Nozick 's The Principle Of Self Ownership Essay

Nozick 's The Principle Of Self Ownership Essay

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In this paper, I will examine Nozick’s ‘whatever arises from a just situation by just steps is itself just’ formula. By this formula, Nozick protects individuals’ absolute property rights. To examine its validity, first, I will show that Nozick’s entitlement theory relies on Kantian principle, which demands treating everyone as persons having individual rights with dignity. However, it will be clear that Kantian theory does not necessarily yield the concept of absolute property rights. Second, I will explain the principle of self-ownership, which will clarify that persons have rights over their bodies and powers. I will find the principle of self-ownership is compatible with Kantian principle. Third, I will examine Nozick’s proviso, which guides legitimate initial acquisition. However, finally, I will show that the appropriation that passes Nozick’s proviso violates the idea of respecting people as persons with dignity. In other words, Nozick’s proviso is inconsistent with Kantian principle. Therefore, Nozick’s formula fails.
Nozick (1974) formulates the entitlement theory, which strongly defends individuals’ absolute property rights as long as the process of their holdings is legitimate, where legitimate means there is no historical injustice such as using force or carrying a fraud in acquisition. According to the theory, without violating individuals’ rights, no individual or group, including any government, can enforce redistributive taxation for the purpose of making others better off. Therefore, Nozick only admits minimal states, where almost all kinds of coercive taxation are unjust and illegitimate because they violate individuals’ rights ‘not to be forced to do certain things’, even if the purpose is providing public educ...

... middle of paper ...

...o improve their situation.
However, this appropriation is objectionable from two reasons (Otsuka 1998: 78). First, it condemns others to ‘meager hand-to-mouth existence. Indeed, Bob no longer pursues his conceptions of a good life, even though his goals should be equally respected with dignity. Second, the first-come, first-served doctrine of appropriation that Nozick accepts is unfair. As a fair procedure of appropriation, the system which equalises chances for appropriation is better than a first-come, first-served doctrine of appropriation. However, Nozick’s proviso permits a first-come, first-served doctrine of appropriation even when chances are unequal. Due to this counterexample, Nozick’s proviso is inconsistent with the idea of treating people as persons with dignity. Therefore, Nozick’s formula is inconsistent with Kantian principle. Nozick’s formula fails.

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