Nozick, Robert, 1938–2002, American political philosopher, b. Brooklyn, N.Y.; grad. Columbia Univ. (B.A., 1959), Princeton (M.A., 1961; Ph.D., 1963). After teaching at Princeton and Rockefeller Univ., he became (1969) a philosophy professor at Harvard, where he was named a university professor in 1998. Once a campus radical, Novick soon veered rightward, becoming a staunchly conservative opponent of the kind of liberalism represented by his Harvard colleague, John Rawls. Nozick's first book, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974; National Book Award), a critique of Rawls, has became a key work in contemporary political philosophy. Castigating the paternalism of the welfare state, supporting the primacy of the individual, and defending capitalism, he called for the most minimal of governments, one that would protect its members against violence, theft, and breach of contract and do very little more. Nozick also explored a wide range of other philosophical subjects and their connections to various disciplines. Among his other books are Philosophical Explanations (1981), The Examined Life (1989), The Nature of Rationality (1995), and Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World (2001).
See studies by J. Paul, ed. (1981), S. Luper-Foy (1987), J. S. Corlett, ed. (1991), J. Wolff (1991), S. A. Hailwood (1996), A. Pampathy Rao (1998), and A. R. Lacey (2001).