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Separateness of Persons

February 27th, 2008 · 3 Comments

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but this paper on how Rawls and Nozick’s inferences from the fact of the “separateness of persons” derive from differing conceptions of personhood. I’ll note in advance, though, that as a partisan of the later-Rawls’ program for a neutralist, political-not-metaphysical theory of justice, I would far prefer not to have key points of theory turn on contentious questions about the nature of the self, to the extent that it’s possible to bracket such questions.

Tags: General Philosophy



3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 cassandrus // Feb 27, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    It seems like his claim that (paraphrasing) “persons possess moral status, rather than just bearing moral weight.” is just a kantian “people are never means, always ends” gussied up a bit.

  • 2 The Whaler // Feb 28, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    I think he’s a former student of David Schmidtz. One of the things Schmidtz and his students once pointed out to me seemed surprising at first, but then I thought was quite astute. They said that while it may be true that Nozick stakes his whole argument on an assumption he doesn’t give much justification for–rights as side constraints–the Schmidtz crowd said nevertheless he was assuming no more than Rawls does in Theory.

    That assumption: the moral importance of maintaining the seperateness of persons. So it’s interesting to see a close analysis of this.

  • 3 Julian Sanchez // Feb 28, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Hmm, that’s an interesting point, and I’ll go a certain distance with it, but not all the way. Rawls has a lot more argumentative machinery between the intuition and his substantive theory of rights than Nozick does.