James G. Wilson


American philosophers John Rawls and Robert Nozick’s pathbreaking books establishes enduring parameters for mainstream political and legal discourse. While polarity is often exaggerated, Democrats invoke Rawls’s extension of the New Deal in A Theory of Justice while Republicans gravitate towards Nozick’s libertarianism in Anarchy, State, and Utopia. This Article argues that both approaches are valuable but incomplete. Neither philosopher could foresee the corrosion of republican norms and crippling of the middle class from centralized private power. The problem extends beyond material and political problems to spiritual issue of kindness. Because neither philosopher adequately incorporate benevolence into their visions, they fail to offer a stable and humane path to a middle class republic.