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Nozick argues the libertarian position that redistributing individual wealth creates a...

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lcowan6 | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted December 13, 2012 at 11:34 PM via web

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Nozick argues the libertarian position that redistributing individual wealth creates a safety net for socially disadvantaged individuals. Take the case of America's social security system. Is it really a violation of individual rights?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 13, 2012 at 11:58 PM (Answer #1)

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It is possible to argue this point from both sides. 

First, we can clearly see how Nozick’s argument is plausible.  When we have a social security system like ours, we require everyone who works to pay into it.  For those who are better off, we are requiring them to give up some of their money in the full knowledge that it will be given to others who have less.  We are, in effect, stealing from them and giving to others.  This is clearly an infringement of their rights.

However, this is not the only way to look at this.  People who are wealthy have not gotten that way completely on their own.  They are part of the society as a whole and they have benefited in many ways from being part of this society.  For example, one reason that they are able to be wealthy is that we have a stable society where the right to property is respected.  One reason that we have such a society is that we have a social security system that helps to ensure that we do not have a huge class of people who cannot support themselves after retirement.  When looked at in this way, the money that is taken from the rich for social security is really a payment that they owe in return for the stable society that has been created and which allows them to become wealthy.

Thus, there are two ways to look at it.  We can look at this as an infringement of rights or we can look at it as a payment that is due from everyone who benefits from the stability of our society.

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