Audio of Robert Nozick?

by on November 26, 2017 at 3:10 am in Education, Philosophy | Permalink

Nozick was one of the smartest and quickest thinkers, and I feel sorry for those who never had the chance of experiencing him in person.  Recently I received this email from Michael P. Gibson:

Robert Nozick is one of my intellectual heroes and I have wondered why there aren’t any recordings out there of his lectures. Well, after some probing around, I’ve discovered there are!

http://hollis.harvard.edu/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?vid=HVD&search_scope=default_scope&docId=HVD_ALEPH009785781&fn=permalink

Alas, they are 17 audiocassettes at Hollis at Harvard. Do you think it’s worth a bleg on MR to see if some enterprising Harvard student out there might digitize them and make them accessible to the public?

Anyone?  Do you know of any other recordings of his lectures?  It’s a shame he was never on Firing Line.

1 Steve Sailer November 26, 2017 at 4:06 am

How much did Nozick and Rawls benefit from having the other around? It seems like they got some marketing boost off arguing with each other.

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2 David Gordon November 26, 2017 at 8:32 am

After Anarchy, State, and Utopia was published, they were not as close as earlier.

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3 Steve Sailer November 27, 2017 at 1:16 am

Thanks.

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4 Ryan Reynolds November 26, 2017 at 4:10 am

+1

Nozick is also one of my intellectual heroes. Anarchy State and Utopia is my benchmark for libertarianism.

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5 Ray Lopez November 26, 2017 at 11:04 am

Nozick is also popular in Sudan, for this: “Nozick argued that a consistent upholding of the non-aggression principle would allow and regard as valid consensual or non-coercive enslavement contracts between adults”, though the Jinjaweed militias are said to have violated the “or” clause of this condition.

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6 A Truth Seeker November 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

It is just another American nutjob, they are a cent a dozen.

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7 George November 26, 2017 at 12:05 pm

No, Ray Lopez, they violated the consensual and non-coercive parts. Therefore, they have nothing to do with Nozick. This should have been obvious to you.

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8 Ray Lopez November 26, 2017 at 8:57 pm

@George – it was obvious, re-read what I said about the Jinjaweed. And consensual slavery is exactly what most of Sudan is all about, and why the US Founding Fathers abolished the debtors prison.

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9 clockwork_prior November 26, 2017 at 4:11 am

Wouldn’t the Mercatus Center have a few bucks to sponsor such a public minded effort?

Not to mention MRU providing a fine platform to place such product for public consumption.

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10 Ray Lopez November 26, 2017 at 11:07 am

Just what do you mean by “public consumption”? Do you know ‘consumption’ is an archaic term for tuberculosis?

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11 clockwork_prior November 26, 2017 at 11:31 am

Actually, I did know that consumption was considered a way to appear irresistible in early Victorian times, at least for women.

As noted here, for example – ‘The Victorians romanticized the disease and the effects it caused in the gradual build to death. For decades, many beauty standards emulated or highlighted these effects. And as scientists gained greater understanding of the disease and how it was spread, the disease continued to keep its hold on fashion.

“Between 1780 and 1850, there is an increasing aestheticization of tuberculosis that becomes entwined with feminine beauty,” says Carolyn Day, an assistant professor of history at Furman University in South Carolina and author of the forthcoming book Consumptive Chic: A History of Fashion, Beauty and Disease, which explores how tuberculosis impacted early 19th century British fashion and perceptions of beauty.’ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-tuberculosis-shaped-victorian-fashion-180959029/

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12 Shazam November 26, 2017 at 11:34 am

>Wouldn’t the Mercatus Center have a few bucks to sponsor such a public minded effort?

Slavery’s last holdout: academia.

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13 A Truth Seeker November 26, 2017 at 6:53 am

Could I care less? Hardly.

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14 rayward November 26, 2017 at 8:15 am

The conservative values order and stability because the alternative is anarchy; and the antidote to anarchy is oppression and tyranny. The Founders faced a threat of anarchy and understood from experience that anarchy would lead to tyranny; they were not revolutionaries but conservatives who designed a government they hoped would deliver the order and stability necessary to avoid anarchy and thus tyranny. The libertarians’ flirtation with Trumpism has confirmed what the Founders knew. The difference between the Founders and today’s libertarians is that today’s libertarians believe they can move to Mars if their flirtation leads to anarchy and tyranny. Where would the Founders have gone? New Zealand?

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15 TMC November 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm

” the antidote to anarchy is oppression and tyranny.”

Second law of progressivism: Projection.

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16 Thor November 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm

What’s the first law?

(And, since I’m asking: what is the third law? And what is the fourth law? And what is the fifth law? And what is the sixth law? And what is the seventh law? I just assume that there are at least seven laws. Progressives like laws!)

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17 A Truth Seeker November 26, 2017 at 9:05 am

“Where would the Founders have gone? New Zealand?”
Actually, many former Confederates emigrated to Brazil after their mad slaveowners’ dream collapsed.

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18 msgkings November 27, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Such is life in Brazil, a safe haven for Nazis and slaveowners.

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19 Iskander November 26, 2017 at 9:12 am

ASU is wonderfully written. Even his other essays/books are enjoyable to read. Perhaps the greatest shame is that ASU seems to be in the shadow of Rawls, the most overrated political philosopher since Rousseau.

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20 Ray Lopez November 26, 2017 at 11:08 am

Agreed about Rawls. I once argued in law school, before I flunked out, that Rawls’ veil of ignorance only applies to risk-adverse people. There are risk loving people who would not mind spinning the roulette wheel of inequality, come what may.

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21 swedenborg November 26, 2017 at 11:24 am

Per Veil of Ignorance, risk-lovers’ choice to spin the inequality wheel is moral, if, before they choose, they are ignorant of where the wheel will stop. Your argument highlights that different personalities choose different wheels, but fails to show that the Veil of Ignorance applies to the risk-averse only.

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22 wiki November 26, 2017 at 11:50 am

But surely the burden of showing that all would select the risk-averse solution is on the author — Rawls — rather than any critics of the argument. Rawls seems to assume it rather carelessly — as other critiques of his principle have shown cases that would contradict Rawls behind the veil of ignorance.

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23 Thor November 26, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Rawls is a latter-day Rousseau. Liberal assumptions, check. Progressive bias, check. (I say this as someone who simply wanted a more realistically misanthropic Rawls. I guess I’m a tragic pessimist.)

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24 wd40 November 26, 2017 at 11:54 am

Nozick’s book, Anarchy, State and Utopia, provided an argument for many of those already on the right, while Rawls, A Theory of Justice, provided an argument for many of those already on the left. The popularity of each was enhanced by the existence of the other, but both books are greatly overrated, even from the perspective of the time. As I recall, Nozick later repudiated his own book. Rawls “veil of Ignorance” owes much to Harsanyi. Rawls’s argument that in a veil of ignorance we would be concerned only with the worst off individual assumes the most extreme form of risk aversion.

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25 Iskander November 26, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Nozick only changed his mind about whether people were free to sell themselves into slavery – I wouldn’t think that would make him not a libertarian/ that he no longer accepts most of ASU.

There is some dreadful slate article which made it seem like he’d completely changed.

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26 Chris November 26, 2017 at 12:23 pm

He didn’t repudiate his own book. (I know a lot about Nozick.) He always self-identified as a libertarian, even to his last days, and continued to cite Anarchy, State and Utopia in all his subsequent books (including his last, Invariances). The only parts he really changed on were (1) his belief in voluntary slave contracts, and (2) his belief that the libertarianism espoused in ASU did not take full account of the theory of symbolic utility he designed in the Nature of Rationality. (1), if I remember correctly, can be attested to by David Schmidtz, and (2) based on his interviews and what he wrote. In Invariances, though, and in an interview with Juilan Sanchez, it’s pretty clear he’s still a libertarian as ever: the only part of ethics that can be coercively enforced (are matters of justice) were negative rights. That is, Nozick did not believe that any positive duties were enforceable (i.e., that there were no positive rights, only negative rights).

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27 Abe November 26, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Nozick did not allow his students to record his class lectures, or at least did not in the late 90s, or at least did not in smaller classes (perhaps his large lecture with Dershowitz and Gould was different); or what I can specifically recall: a couple times where I was present (at least once, I think twice) he paused and asked if someone was recording him, and explained why he didn’t like that.

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28 A Truth Seeker November 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Do you remember why?

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29 Abe November 26, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Maybe the only reason I still have this memory is that it stuck with me a bit that he spent a full one or two sentences explaining his reasoning, which struck me at the time as rather courteous of him. But I don’t remember much of his actual reasoning beyond something basic about self-consciousness, not wanting to have his ideas or words be quoted against him, etc. (I.e., what you would expect even if we didn’t later learn he might have resisted recrodings.) I don’t know if he drew a line between that regular classroom situation and larger or more public lectures. I don’t recall him saying anything that would have suggested he resisted recordings as a general matter.

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30 A Truth Seeker November 26, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Thanks.

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31 efim polenov November 26, 2017 at 7:32 pm

If you wonder why Nozick did not like to be recorded, it helps to know that he (Nozick) was a big fan of Sidney Mossenberger (‘big fan’ as in former student of, and great admirer – to the point of almost being a ‘disciple’, broadly construed, of) who “published remarkably little” but was a very well respected academic philosopher because of his deeply fascinating and philosophically valuable conversation, according to the NY Times obituary of Mossenberger.

Nozick married Gjertrud Schnackenberg, a very very good poet. If you have never read any of her poems, give them a try. Some of them are free on the internet, but her books are in many big public libraries, too, and a few small lucky ones, I guess.

I tried to read his (Nozick’s) books back in the day, he was a little too juvenile in his world-view for me. Some of the details seemed right – and he was clearly a very clever young man – but he just seemed, after 20 pages or so, to just be writing the way a clever guy who does not really understand this world and why we are here would write (not unlike Mossenberger, by the way). So I did not make the time to read more. Maybe it was just me, that is a fair question.

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32 Michael F. Martin November 26, 2017 at 9:08 pm

+1 the request

On a related note, Invariances is a unique and wonderful book, and a worthy finish to a spectacular career. Was surprised that there was no Kindle version available when I looked a while ago.

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33 canon mx922 driver November 28, 2017 at 5:47 am

He always self-identified as a libertarian, even to his last days, and continued to cite Anarchy, State and Utopia in all his subsequent books (including his last, Invariances). The only parts he really changed on were (1) his belief in voluntary slave contracts, and (2) his belief that the libertarianism espoused in ASU did not take full account of the theory of symbolic utility he designed in the Nature of Rationality.

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