Critically discuss Robert Nozick’s claim that, because liberty upsets pattern, the state should NOT aim to impose patterns of resource distribution in society.


This essay demands a very good understanding of Nozick’s position and appreciation for how this could influence economic policy. You should give a clear description of his position, including definitions of key terms and perhaps using your own examples for illustration.

There are many ways you could argue for or against his view. You should aim to develop your response in connection with some of the core ideas that have been explored in the course, and you may wish to use material from other weeks to focus your response—for example, the economics material on inequality. You will also find additional resources listed in the relevant week’s reading folders, and researching further background to Nozick’s theory and core ideas from these weeks would be appropriate.

Note that we will expect you to engage with the philosophical arguments regarding the morality of the free market system in some way, so you should ensure that you demonstrate an understanding of the material covered in lectures 8 and 9 even if these do not form the central focus of your essay. If in doubt, check with your tutor.


The role of the government in distribution of resources in the society remains one of the most controversial issues.  The role of the government in distribution of resources will remain controversial in view of justice and the legitimacy of the government. Habbeaus and Rousseau view government as a man made institution that is out to deprive man his freedom and unfair distribute resources (Pettit 1997). However, a review of Nozick theory of justice shows that the government has taken an upper hand in distribution of resources. Nozick held a Lockean conception of liberty where he want to see the role of the state reduced to merely regulatory rather than an active player distribution of resources.