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For God's Sake, Someone Shut Up Robert Nozick!

From today's Reg. State reading, Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick:

In a free society, diverse persons control different resources, and new holdings arise out of the voluntary exchanges and actions of persons. There is no more a distributing or distribution of shares [of resources] than there is a distributing of mates in a society in which persons choose whom they shall marry.

Strike this man off our curriculum immediately, before he gives the next generation ideas. His argument obviously cuts both ways, and let's face it, ugly people are discriminated against heavily in the selection of mates. [1] Good looks are, arguably, inherited from your parents as much as wealth, and certainly something which isn't related to the merit of the individual. So how long will it be before someone decides to start requiring dates with ugly people?

(Of course, fellow students might point out that I'd be a strong net beneficiary of this system, but I'm still wary in principle...)

[1] Perhaps not in the selection of marriage-partners, but that's another question.

Update: Wow, I didn't know Nozick had such fans, and that my sense of humor was so bad. To make it explicit, I know what Nozick is saying, and mostly agree with him. The post is a joke: I found it funny that while he's making an 'X is ridiculous, thus Y is ridiculous' argument, the flip side of that is that if you find Y is not ludicrous, you might re-evaluate your opinion of X.


Just further proof that Reg State isn't the most important class at CLS. And understatement isn't my primary means of speaking.
I haven't read any Nozick, but the passage you quote doesn't strike me as any kind of argument for wealth "distribution" reform, or the like. Looks like Nozick (unless I'm missing unquoted context here) is just dragging terms like "distribution" out into the sun, and deconstructing them.
There is one thing I like about that quote... It's well known that "All's fair in love and war". So by implication the same is now true of politics, economics and the like. (Well, OK, it always was - but now someone famous has set so it's surely even more true !) Maybe the next US president will rise to power on the strength of the voting power of ugly voters ?
Dont let Paul convince you that everyone hates Reg State. I thought it was the most entertaining class in my first year. The best part is watching liberals try to justify rent control.
Elizabeth Anderson talks about the distribution of attractive partners in Value in Ethics and Economics; I think Walzer's concept of spheres rebutts that effectively.
Sadly, except for Joel (hi there, Yoelie!), everyone -does- hate Reg State. Unless they get Sage. Um, on Nozick: It's a subtle point, but you definitely missed it. Nozick's point is the content of your paragraph: No one at all thinks that distribution of dates would be appropriate, so why is it we think that distribution of resources should be any better? (Caveat: That's only one way to understand it, as the normative point that we _shouldn't_ be in the redistribution business. Probably more faithful to Nozick's meaning is the theoretical point: That there _is_ no distribution of resources, properly speaking, no agent divvying up the things we do things with. Societal choices are made at a different level---are people going to be free, or unfree?---but what people have is just a consequence of what people do.)
Oh dear, this doesn't speak well for my sense of humor, since too many people have taken that edit seriously...
Oh. No, uh... we all got it. 's funny. Good one.
I'm totally confused... do you understand Nozick's argument at all? Tony the Pony made a good point up there... and although I'd couch his argument in terms of the invisible hand, to give it more of a crazy-libertarian feel, it's spot on. My confusion stems from your post's incomprehensible prose. I'm not trying to be rude, but I can't make heads or tails of what you said. And a final note: Nozick passed away last year, so no one needs to "shut him up" now.
Oh dear. I suppose as a joke this one didn't go over very well. Nozick's point is, within his framework, well made, but when he says: There is no more a distributing or distribution of shares [of resources] than there is a distributing of mates in a society in which persons choose whom they shall marry he makes a comparative statement, not an absolute one. Now in our society, we generally consider ourselves 'free', and yet we do have a distribution of shares of resources, at least to a certain degree. (For instance, we have progressive income tax rates.) Someone who didn't get Nozick's point might then conclude "Oh, wow--maybe we should distribute mates, too..." Or to put it another way, he tries to make his point by saying that if one thing (distributed marriage) is absurd, then another (distributed income) is also absurd. The joke lies in pointing out the danger that if someone finds the latter thing not to be absurd, they might include the same of the former. In general, I find myself sympathetic to Nozick's point, but I've never liked the method of argument he uses. I understand that Nozick is saying exactly what Tony the Pony summarized: "No one at all thinks that distribution of dates would be appropriate, so why is it we think that distribution of resources should be any better?" But the flip side of that assumption is that if one does think distribution of resources is appropriate, maybe one should re-check one's assumptions on the distribution of dates. Ah well. You can't win them all, I suppose.
Life is like this, where there is good there is also bad, You cannot have God without the Devil, the thing is the Bible speaks quite clearly that during the end times the Beast will run the earth.Only for seven years...Now we all know that we live in a Devil run society today, the thing is at some point soon the Beast will appear physically and run the Earth, in a way no one has seen or heard...I would also like to make this point, the Bible also speaks of the antichrist, but it does not say where the antichrist comes from......... Looks like we are all in big trouble if some madman spends three days in the center of the earth...... Now you might think that God and the Devil do not exist....This is a fair comment, The trouble with thinking that God and the Devil don't exist on leaves your soul open for eternal torture, because if you don't beleive that God exists you won't goto Heaven, and if you don't beleive that the Devil exists, do you really think he is going to go easy on you when you find yourself in HELL...........

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