Quotes & Interesting Facts – Robert Nozick

A philosopher at Harvard known for his unique writing style and stunning good looks. He worked in many fields, including ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. He is perhaps most famous for his single venture into political philosophy: Anarchy, State, and Utopia, which argues for a minimalist state and against both anarcho-capitalism and socialism.

In that book he also devised two enduring arguments against utilitarianism, the virtual reality argument and the utility monster problem. His book Philosophical Explanations examines ideas of knowledge and critiques the method of basing large systems of thought on a few axioms- comparing it to building a house by piling bricks directly on top of one another.

Interesting Facts About Robert Nozick

  • Born in Brooklyn in 1938, Nozick studied analytic philosophy as an undergraduate at Columbia University. Later at Princeton he pursued graduate work in analytic philosophy, a field that tries to understand the relation between linguistic statements and the real-world subjects they define.
  • Nozick turned to political philosophy for the first time in 1971, when he delivered several talks on the topic at Harvard as a guest lecturer.
  • Though he achieved widespread recognition in the field of political philosophy, Nozick always considered himself primarily an analytic philosopher. He later referred to the writing of Anarchy, State, and Utopia as “an accident” that came about as a side project while he had been pursuing loftier questions of free will.
  • Nozick came to Harvard as a professor of philosophy in 1970 and was named a University professor, Harvard’s most prestigious professorial post, in 1998.
  • He almost never repeated a course he taught,” said Warren Goldfarb, Pearson professor of modern mathematics and mathematical logic. When Nozick joined the Harvard faculty in 1970, his colleagues affectionately took to calling him “tigger” behind his back because he was “such a bouncy animal,” Goldfarb said.

Quotes By Robert Nozick

  • You can’t satisfy everybody; especially if there are those who will be dissatisfied unless not everybody is satisfied.
  • Taxation of earnings from labor is on a par with forced labor. Seizing the results of someone’s labor is equivalent to seizing hours from him and directing him to carry on various activities.
  • No state more extensive than the minimal state can be justified.
  • Marxian exploitation is the exploitation of people’s lack of understanding of economics.
  • Evolutionary cosmology formulates theories in which a universe is capable of giving rise to and generating future universes out of itself, within black holes or whatever.
  • Instead of trying to prove your opponent wrong, try to see in what sense he might be right.
  • The trouble with government regulation of the market is that it prohibits capitalistic acts between consenting adults.
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