Responding to John Rawls egalitarianism, Robert Nozick responds that “….in a socialist society… no end-state principle or distributional patterned principle of justice can be continuously realized without continuous interference with peoples’ lives. Any favoured pattern would be transformed into one unflavored by the principle, by people choosing to act in various ways…” (Nozick 1974, 163) This essay will argue that Nozick’s objection is successful against Rawls, only to the extent that it is understood in the context of Rawls’ understanding of his own theory.
I want to make a bold claim: I don’t think there is any such thing as ‘equality’. Now, just to clarify: clearly, arithmetic and geometric equality is real. Otherwise the “ = “ wouldn’t exist. What I am referring to, is the sense of the term that gets applied to human social and political relations. This kind of equality is a phantasm; a will-o-wisp; a unicorn, in all its varieties. If we look at particular examples of what people tend to call “equality”, what we find are hidden changes in the meaning of “equal”.