Rawls and Nozick on Liberty & Equality
Prof. James Otteson discusses the philosophers John Rawls and Robert Nozick, and their different views on liberty and equality. Rawls considered equality to be the moral benchmark for all social and political institutions, and felt that any deviation from equality must be specially justified. Nozick, on the other hand, considered liberty to be the more important value. He pointed out that there is an inevitable tension between liberty and equality: to maintain equal distribution in society, a central planner would have to constantly interfere with people’s personal choices. Alternatively, if a central planner left people free to make independent choices, any patterns of equality would ultimately be disrupted.