Nozick and Locke: Filling the space of rights

Social Philosophy and Policy 22 (1):81-110 (2005)
Abstract
Do property entitlements define the moral environment in which rights to well-being are defined, or do rights to well-being define the moral environment in which property entitlements are defined? Robert Nozick argued for the former alternative and he denied that any serious attempt had been made to state the latter alternative (what he called “the ‘reverse’ theory”). I actually think John Locke's approach to property can be seen as an instance of the “reverse” theory. And Nozick's can too, inasmuch as it shares a number of features with the Lockean approach. But my paper is not intended as a criticism of Nozick; on the contrary, it acknowledges the integrity and the importance of his insistence that welfare, property, and justice be integrated into a single theory with clearly established priorities.
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