Anne-Sophie Ouellet, ‘Challenging Nozick: What Natural Property Rights?’

Abstract
Nozick is famous for his incendiary claim that ‘taxation is on par with forced labour’. Although Nozick’s views on distributive justice and property have been abundantly discussed, the vast majority of the literature focuses on these elements as if they were distinct. Taking seriously Nozick’s challenge, however, indicates that these dimensions are closely interrelated. This essay aims at bridging the current gap in the literature between property and taxation theory. In doing so, I put forward a challenge of my own: can Nozickians show that there is a natural right to property that would be binding prior to the advent of a convention? I believe they cannot. I argue that the most notarious contenders – Locke’s labour-mixing argument, the self-ownership thesis, and Kant’s freedom-based account of private property – cannot ground a natural right to private property. This, I argue, greatly threatens Nozick’s argument against the legitimacy of taxation.

Anne-Sophie Ouellet, Challenging Nozick: What Natural Property Rights?, Master of Laws Thesis, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto 2018.

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