Two Liberalisms: Mill vs Lock

I want to suggest an idea from an observation that’s been made many times before. Namely, that what the modern center-left now likes to call “classical” and/or “social” Liberalism, is a muddle of two strains of thought in the Enlightenment, that both stand in opposition to Rousseau; but that the latter strain smuggles him back in through the kitchen door. The division in the Enlightenment between Rousseau and Hobbes is so famous it’s practically a cliché at this point.

Chamberlain Nozick and Rawls

In his book, “Anarchy, State, and Utopia”, Robert Nozick offers the Wilt Chamberlain thought experiment in order to demonstrate how a conception of justice based on “end-state patterned distributions” (as he put it) would require constant coercive interventions on the part of the state, in order to maintain the desired pattern. This, in turn, would undermine theories of justice that incorporated liberty into their framework. John Rawls’ theory of justice is one such example.