When I was an economics professor, the libertarian faculty would sometimes bring up the name Nozick, as if he were a god.
Excerpt from Wikipedia
Robert Nozick (/ˈnoʊzɪk/; November 16, 1938 – January 23, 2002) was an American philosopher. He held the Joseph Pellegrino University Professorship at Harvard University, and was president of the American Philosophical Association. He is best known for his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), a libertarian answer to John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (1971). His other work involved decision theory and epistemology.
Nozick was born in Brooklyn. His mother was born Sophie Cohen, and his father was a Jew from the Russian shtetl who had been born with the name of Cohen and who ran a small business.
For Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) Nozick received a National Book Award in category Philosophy and Religion. There, Nozick argues that only a minimal state “limited to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, fraud, enforcement of contracts, and so on” could be justified without violating people’s rights. For Nozick, a distribution of goods is just if brought about by free exchange among consenting adults from a just starting position, even if large inequalities subsequently emerge from the process. Nozick appealed to the Kantian idea that people should be treated as ends (what he termed ‘separateness of persons’), not merely as a means to some other end.
The Examined Life (1989), pitched to a broader public, explores love, death, faith, reality, and the meaning of life. According to Stephen Metcalf, Nozick expresses serious misgivings about capitalist libertarianism, going so far as to reject much of the foundations of the theory on the grounds that personal freedom can sometimes only be fully actualized via a collectivist politics and that wealth is at times justly redistributed via taxation to protect the freedom of the many from the potential tyranny of an overly selfish and powerful few. Nozick suggests that citizens who are opposed to wealth redistribution which fund programs they object to, should be able to opt out by supporting alternative government approved charities with an added 5% surcharge. However, Jeff Riggenbach has noted that “…in an interview conducted in July 2001, he stated that he had never stopped self-identifying as a libertarian. And Roderick Long reports that in his last book, Invariances, [Nozick] identified voluntary cooperation as the ‘core principle’ of ethics, maintaining that the duty not to interfere with another person’s ‘domain of choice’ is ‘[a]ll that any society should (coercively) demand’; higher levels of ethics, involving positive benevolence, represent instead a ‘personal ideal’ that should be left to ‘a person’s own individual choice and development.’ And that certainly sounds like an attempt to embrace libertarianism all over again. My own view is that Nozick’s thinking about these matters evolved over time and that what he wrote at any given time was an accurate reflection of what he was thinking at that time.”