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Nozick on Rights (Essay Sample)


It is to critically expose the ideas of Nozick on rights.


Nozick on Rights
The question of passing down a health care policy that is founded on the consent of the vast majority of people and can meet the needs of the most disadvantaged groups in our society is a contested issue that is involved in the debate between the maintenance of liberty of individual citizens on one hand and the need to uphold the interests of the disadvantaged groups in our society on the other hand. The introduction of a health care policy is influenced by the questions of liberty and the need to realize justice for all. In this paper, a discussion of the permissibility of a health care policy will be discussed by drawing on the ideas of Robert Nozick, G.A Cohen, and John Rawls.
Nozick and Individual Rights
Robert Nozick developed an approach that concentrates on the liberty of the individual and the minimal role of the state in the lives of individual citizens. His views are predicated on the assumption that human beings have essential natural rights that should not be violated by any external body including the state. It is not the goodwill of an external body that gives us such rights and the rights can be equated to our natural place that is occupied in the objective world. In philosophical terms, Nozick propagated the primacy of the individual and as a result of this, believed that the collective identities that individuals get to participate in are the results of individual efforts. Before the establishment of the state, we have “business enterprises which provide protective services” (Nozick, 1974, p. 132). Nozick contends that the minimal state is the logical conclusion of the state of anarchy and individual freedom that was inhabited by individuals before the emergence of the state as an organized political entity. Ultimately in the eyes of Nozick, the nature of justice can be understood in terms of the moral value that is attached to how things are acquired and how they are being transferred from one person to the other based on consent. If these conditions are met, then there is no need for a redistribution of wealth which would amount to a deliberate infringement on the natural rights of the individual.
Based on such an approach that concentrated on the value of individual freedom and the moral practices that are associated with acquisition and transfer, Nozick would disagree with the introduction of a health care policy within a given state. He would argue that since we are operating from a position of the existence of abundant resources in the world and the fact that it was not through coercion that the wealth was acquired in the first place and is being transferred, and then there is no reason to introduce a health care policy. The introduction of such a policy would indeed violate the basic rights of the individual as an external body is infringing upon the labor of the individual. There is no need to introduce a health care policy provided that all individuals can acquire and transfer their wealth in a morally permissible manner. By introducing the health care policy, the state would be abandoning its minimal function and in the process, it is going against the liberty of individual citizens.
Rawls and Cohen on Nozick
The moral impermissibility of the introduction of a health care policy could be contested by looking at the arguments that are propounded by G.A Cohen and John Rawls. Cohen would respond to Nozick by concentrating on the fact that there is no apparent tension and contradiction between the introduction of egalitarian policies that benefit the masses and the protection of the freedom and the liberty of the individual. Cohen takes an issue with Nozick’s claim that voluntary transactions guarantee the existence of justice by showing that even such transactions do have the possibility of resulting in asymmetrical power relations within a given society. Based on this, the introduction of a health care policy would be supported by Cohen since it can be seen as a way of finding a solution to the relationships of asymmetry that are found in the world. In speaking of the causes of the injustice, Cohen remarks that “injustice in situation…does not presuppose wrong doing…it could result from misadventure” (Cohen, p. 43). The task of the health policy might be correcting such misadventure. Additionally, it can even be argued that the introduction of the health care policy can be seen as a way of correcting the imbalances that are found in the initial manner in which wealth and property were being acquired in the first place. Introducing the policy is not a violation of the right of the individual since in the introduction of such a policy it is the interests of the disadvantaged that it is respected and Cohen does not think that the personality of one person can be separated from the other members of the community.
John Rawls in operating from the original position and the veil of ignorance developed an approach that focuses on the need to maximize the interests of those that are getting minimal benefits within a given state. The starting point of the recollection about the state in the eyes of Rawls is the abandoning of the differences that are found among individuals and in return a focus on a state of ignorance where all individuals would engage in the promotion of the interests of the marginalized and the disadvantaged groups within a given society. Rawls would support the introduction of the health care policy as he thinks that it does not pose any threat against the liberty and autonomy of individual citizens. On the contrary, it offers an approach through which those that are left out of the system are going to benefit. According to Rawls, the basic limitation of Nozick’s position is that it failed to understand the difference principle and as a result of this, it is completely indifferent to policies that have a role in restructuring the foundation of a given society. The health care policy did not come at the expense of a given group since if all of us are making decisions from the condition of a veil of ignorance, then we would opt for an action or a policy that would stand in favor of the disadvantaged. Accordingly, policies should not be made from a position of hierarchy and from a consideration of the actual place that we occupy in the world.
Nozick on Health Care
Nozick’s position on the introduction of a health care policy is situated in the context of the need to protect citizens from an external infringement on their basic rights while Cohen concentrated on the relations of inequality that existed in the world of capitalism both in terms of acquisition and also transfer. Rawls developed a conception of justice that is meant to restructure the basic foundation of society and is leaned towards the interests of the disadvantaged groups. Nozick would refute Rawls’ position on the health care policy by arguing that even if we accept that individuals can deliberate with one another by leaving aside the position that they occupy in the world, they would still be self-interested and because of this, structural differences among individuals would be created in the world

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