Essay about Social Justice and Entitlements Interfer with Natural Rights

Essay about Social Justice and Entitlements Interfer with Natural Rights

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As part of his “Entitlement Theory of Justice”, Robert Nozick argues that patterned principles of distributive justice are ultimately unjust as they interfere with individuals’ natural rights. A principle of distributive justice is “patterned” if it “specifies that a distribution is to vary along with some natural dimension, weighted sum of natural dimensions, or lexicographic ordering of natural dimensions,” he explains. So, a principle that distributed goods in society to individuals according to need, usefulness to society, intelligence, or some combination thereof is pattered according to Nozick’s definition. In Nozick’s libertarian view, “the minimal state is the most extensive state that can be [morally] justified” without violating individuals’ rights. He doesn’t specify what constitutes a “minimal” state, but suggests it is one that fully upholds the liberal ideal of self-ownership, completely respectful of individuals’ freedoms of choice and action (to the extent they don’t interfere with others), and never limits those persons’ freedom without their voluntary consent. However, “patterned principles of justice necessitate redistribute activities” and “the likelihood is small that any actual freely-arrived-at set of holdings fits a given pattern,” for Nozick.
Most importantly for Nozick, a reasonable principle of distributive justice ought to account for what goods persons are entitled to have, complying with four basic restrictions:
I. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in acquisition is entitled to that holding.
II. A person who acquires a holding in accordance with the principle of justice in transfer, from someone else entitled to the holding, is entitled to the holding....


... middle of paper ...


...possible moral duties and obligations. Taxing a few cents from a person is hardly forcing one to work at gunpoint. An analogy is only as strong as its two cases are similar, but the degrees of harm resulting from taxation and slavery is too dissimilar to be considered a reasonably analogous. If a starving person were to take $10 for food from multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s piggy bank, it would be difficult to detect any harm done to Zuckerberg besides violating his free choice. On the other hand, it seems like Zuckerberg not giving the starving person $10 is a harm when Zuckerberg could have done so very easily. Given the latter option seems more intuitive than the former, perhaps it’s the case that other moral obligations can trump uninhibited freedom, therefore allowing for some limited forms of taxation that still largely recognizes persons’ entitlements.

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