Robert Nozick was a professor of philosophy at Harvard University who is most famous for his contributions to political philosophy. His 1974 book Anarchy, State, and Utopia helped establish the classical liberal or libertarian perspective as a viable alternative to redistributive egalitarian liberalism and to socialism. Despite many philosophers’ disagreements with Nozick’s arguments, those arguments could not be ignored.
Robert Nozick was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1938, and received his undergraduate degree at Columbia University in 1959. At Columbia he was active in socialist politics, but during his time there and in graduate school at Princeton University, he was exposed to a variety of political perspectives, and he notes in the preface to his most famous book, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, that it was discussions with friends that “led me to take libertarian views seriously enough to want to refute them, and so to pursue the subject further.” This included ideas such as individual rights, the need for limits on government, and the wealth-growing mechanisms of a free market system.