Rawls vs Nozick: Justice or Freedom?

The answer depends on what kind of freedom you want

Whether we want justice or freedom is the central political question behind all our political disputes – we have Rawls and Nozick to thank for this. In modern politics, the left is associated with seeking justice: we find this in ideas of equality and social justice. The right, on the other hand, is associated with the protection of a libertarian notion of freedom. We must move beyond this divide, argues Helga Varden. Some freedoms are worth fighting for more than others, and some freedoms cannot be pursued by everyone until we undo the existing injustice present in the system.


In the 1960s, Harvard University made two hires that would greatly impact the direction of political theory for the next several decades, namely John Rawls (1962) and Robert Nozick (1969). Prior to their philosophical works in the f

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