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John Stick's article does a double reverse loop-the-loop on John Rawls and Robert Nozick, purporting to show that each really thinks the same way as the other on a range of important theoretical subjects. It is a fascinating piece for three reasons, quite aside from its extraordinary imaginativeness: (1) it has as much to say about John Locke as about Rawls and Nozick; (2) it is in part utterly sensible and correct; and (3) in the remainder, it is stubbornly perverse.
Point (3) comes to bear in large part in the article's second half, where Stick attempts to turn Nozick into Rawls. He makes the surprising argument that even under a Nozickean (or neo-Lockean) conception of entitlements, we should arrive at Rawls' more-or-less redistributive "difference principle." This tour de force is, I believe, Stick's main object in writing the article. Indeed, one might think that this part of the paper is but a thin cover for what looks like Stick's own ruminations on property, and most particularly on the debt supposedly owed by Lockean appropriators (the "haves") to the nonappropriators (the "have nots").
I will thus concentrate on the second half of the paper, but I am going to begin with a character that shows up as a critic of the first half. Who is the critic? Why, who else but the Rational Utility Maximizer, or as I shall call her, RUM. RUM thinks, to put it briefly, that Stick is not thinking enough about the total goodies that will be available to our society, or about the incentives we need to get that total to its maximum.
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