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Robert Nozick Biography

(1938–2002), Anarchy, State, and Utopia, A Theory of Justice, Philosophical Explanations, a priori

theory personal harvard university

American philosopher, born in Brooklyn, New York, educated at Columbia University and at Princeton, where he was an assistant professor until 1965. Before being appointed to a professorship at Harvard in 1969, he held several posts, including an associate professorship at Rockefeller University; in 1985 he became Harvard's Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy. Nozick's reputation was established with Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974); this constituted the most persuasive critique of John Rawls's highly influential A Theory of Justice (1971), which Nozick opposed for its collective view of social organization. It remains his most noted contribution to political philosophy for its formulation of the ‘entitlement theory’ of social justice and its strong arguments for the ethical necessity of defending libertarian ideals. In Philosophical Explanations (1981) he develops his celebrated conditional theory of knowledge, which unifies a priori and a posteriori conditions of knowing, in the course of refuting the sceptical philosophical position; the book also demonstrates his work's breadth of reference in its expansive discussions of central questions relating to free will, ethics, and personal identity. Nozick's other works include The Normative Theory of Individual Choice (1990) and The Examined Life (1989), in which he locates sexual relations and other fundamental areas of personal experience within a comprehensive system of existential values.

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