Two Tuesday Quotes: Rawls and Nozick

Yes, I know it’s Wednesday but it occurred to me late last night how much I missed doing this. Now that I’m reading more often the exposure to thinkers, and their quotes, has been expanded. Surely I should go back and make sure I’m not duplicating any thinkers. But then again, maybe it’s better to start blind. The lazy in me concurs with the latter.

John Rawls

In constant pursuit of money to finance campaigns, the political system is simply unable to function. Its deliberative powers are paralyzed.

John Rawls (b. 1921, d. 2002) was an American political philosopher in the liberal tradition. His theory of justice as fairness envisions a society of free citizens holding equal basic rights cooperating within an egalitarian economic system. His account of political liberalism addresses the legitimate use of political power in a democracy, aiming to show how enduring unity may be achieved despite the diversity of worldviews that free institutions allow. His writings on the law of peoples extend these theories to liberal foreign policy, with the goal of imagining how a peaceful and tolerant international order might be possible.

Rawls was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. His father was a prominent lawyer, his mother a chapter president of the League of Women Voters. Rawls studied at Princeton, where he was influenced by Wittgenstein’s student Norman Malcolm; and at Oxford, where he worked with H. L. A. Hart, Isaiah Berlin, and Stuart Hampshire. His first professorial appointments were at Cornell and MIT. In 1962 Rawls joined the faculty at Harvard, where he taught for more than thirty years.

Rawls’s adult life was a scholarly one: its major events occurred within his writings. The exceptions were two wars. As a college student Rawls wrote an intensely religious senior thesis (BI) and had considered studying for the priesthood. Yet Rawls lost his Christian faith as an infantryman in World War II on seeing the capriciousness of death in combat and learning of the horrors of the Holocaust. Then in the 1960s Rawls spoke out against America’s military actions in Vietnam. The Vietnam conflict impelled Rawls to analyze the defects in the American political system that led it to prosecute so ruthlessly what he saw as an unjust war, and to consider how citizens could conscientiously resist their government’s aggressive policies.

Rawls’s most discussed work is his theory of a just liberal society, called justice as fairness. Rawls first set out justice as fairness in systematic detail in his 1971 book, A Theory of Justice. Rawls continued to rework justice as fairness throughout his life, restating the theory in Political Liberalism (1993), The Law of Peoples (1999), and Justice as Fairness (2001). Students wanting a clear guide to A Theory of Justice may wish to read Lovett (2011), or (more advanced) Mandle (2009). Those interested in the evolution of justice as fairness from 1971 onwards should consult Freeman (2007) and Weithman (2011). This entry reflects Rawls’s final statement of his views on justice as fairness, as well as on political liberalism and on the law of peoples. (source)


Robert Nozick

Individuals have rights and there are things no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights). So strong and far-reaching are these rights that they raise the question of what, if anything, the state and its officials may do. How much room do individual rights leave for the state?

Robert Nozick (1938–2002) was a renowned American philosopher who first came to be widely known through his 1974 book, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974),[1] which won the National Book Award for Philosophy and Religion in 1975. Pressing further the anti-consequentialist aspects of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, Nozick argued that respect for individual rights is the key standard for assessing state action and, hence, that the only legitimate state is a minimal state that restricts its activities to the protection of the rights of life, liberty, property, and contract. Despite his highly acclaimed work in many other fields of philosophy, Nozick remained best known for the libertarian doctrine advanced in Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

Robert Nozick was born in Brooklyn in 1938 to a Russian Jewish immigrant family. He earned an undergraduate Philosophy degree from Columbia University in 1959 and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton University in 1963. He taught for a couple of years at Princeton, Harvard, and Rockefeller Universities before moving permanently to Harvard in 1969. He became widely known through his 1974 book, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, which shocked the philosophical world with its robust and sophisticated defense of the minimal state—the state that restricts its activities to the protection of individual rights of life, liberty, property, and contract and eschews the use of state power to redistribute income, to make people moral, or to protect people from harming themselves. Nozick went on to publish important works that ranged over metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of science, and axiology—Philosophical Explanations (1981), The Examined Life(1989), The Nature of Rationality (1993), Socratic Puzzles (1997), and Invariances (2001). Nozick’s always lively, engaging, audacious, and philosophically ambitious writings revealed an amazing knowledge of advanced work in many disciplines including decision theory, economics, mathematics, physics, psychology, and religion. Robert Nozick died in 2002 from stomach cancer for which he was first treated in 1994.

As an undergraduate student at Columbia and at least in his early days as a graduate student at Princeton, Nozick endorsed socialism. At Columbia, he was a founder of what was to become the local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. The major force in his conversion to libertarian views was his conversations at Princeton with his fellow philosophy graduate student, Bruce Goldberg. It was through Goldberg that Nozick met the economist Murray Rothbard who was the major champion of “individualist anarchism” in the later decades of the twentieth century (Raico 2002, Other Internet Resources). Nozick’s encounter with Rothbard and Rothbard’s rights-based critique of the state (Rothbard 1973 and 1978)—including the minimal state—lead Nozick to the project of formulating a rights-based libertarianism that would vindicate the minimal state. There is, however, an intriguing lacuna in this story. Goldberg himself and the economists whose writings are often said to have influenced Nozick’s conversion to libertarianism—F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman—were not at all friends of natural rights theory. So, we have no account of why the libertarianism that Nozick himself adopted came in the form of natural rights theory (and an associated doctrine of acquired property rights). (source)


Black Creek Outfitters Guru Session – Hiking the White Mountains

Jack telling us about The Whites.
Jack telling us about The Whites.

On August 27th Black Creek Outfitters hosted a Guru Session led by Jack Stucki. The subject matter was “Hiking the White Mountains” of New Hampshire. The range consists of 48 peaks which exceed 4,000 feet known as the 4000’ers. It includes Mt. Washington, which at 6,288 feet is the highest mountain in the Northeast.

But it’s more than just numbers and names. “The Whites” are a destination for college students, adventure seekers and families.

Jack’s memories of this section of the AT are varied and happy. The kindness of the people in trail towns, the pristine upkeep of the trail and most of all the amazing views. If this is not on your bucket list it should be. The irony is that my family will be in this area for our Christmas trip. While winter in The Whites can be dangerous Jack assured us that there are still sites aplenty.

While there are many areas to hike The Whites, Jack focused on the section which he traversed while hiking the AT. Therefore the mentions, for example the notches, are not fully inclusive of all The Whites.

The Guru discussions occur every Wednesday evening, with pauses in the series based on availability as well as breaks for planning and actual outdoor adventuring. If you are in the Jacksonville area and would like a session dedicated to a specific topic you can reach out to me or ask for Jack when you visit the store.

If you see anything which you feel is incorrect I always appreciate feedback on how to improve upon, or further elaborate, the information conveyed. I have also tried to include more informative links to items noted in the session.

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Black Creek Outfitters Guru Session – Shenandoah National Park Section Hike

On August 20th Black Creek Outfitters hosted a Guru Session led by Jack Stucki. The subject matter was “Section Hiking the Shenandoah Nation Park”. Jack believes the Shenandoah section of the AT is a great hike for beginners due to the relatively level terrain. Add to that welcoming lodges with full service facilities (dining, pool, sauna, etc.) and you have a place the whole family can enjoy.

What makes this trip a welcoming temptress are the fine folks willing to shuttle you to any put-in. Oh, and then there is a great mountain a bit south of the southern terminus. But you will have to read on for that.

The Guru discussions occur every Wednesday evening, with pauses in the series based on availability as well as breaks for planning and actual outdoor adventuring. If you are in the Jacksonville area and would like a session dedicated to a specific topic you can reach out to me or ask for Jack when you visit the store.

If you see anything which you feel is incorrect I always appreciate feedback on how to improve upon, or further elaborate, the information conveyed.


  • Jack states the Shenandoah Valley is an easy hike, compared to other sections on the AT, and one of the most beautiful. 
  • Many side trails that lead to places to sleep and more vistas. 
  • 103.3 mi – Rock Fish Gap to Front Royal VA. 
  • Add 4 miles of walking to leave the trail for the closest town. 
  • Elevation stays between 2 and 4 thousand feet. 
  • Very well manicured. 
  • Best time of year – Autumn. 
  • Got into the teens during Jack’s time in late September/early October. 
  • Blazes change from white to markers noting your location.  
  • You’ll see bears and deer. The wildlife is robust. 
  • Bears have been humanized, so be mindful. 
  • That said Jack’s experience with a mother bear and her cubs was benign. 
  • Bears Den Hostile – owned by AT Conservancy in the Shenandoah Valley. 
  • Permits – pretty easy to get a permit. You self register in the kiosk just inside the valley, coming north and south. No charge. 
  • You will be fined heavily if you do not get a permit. 
  • You can stay any place for a max of 2 nights. 
  • You can reserve spots, but they are not shelters. 
  • Shelters are first come first serve. 
  • Picnic pavilions are considered shelters. 
  • Camping shelters are called “huts”. There are 8 in the park. 
  • Most campsites have showers. 
  • The park embraces stealth camping. 
  • 50 yards from another party and 10 yards from water. 
  • Cabins are free, but they can be reserved. They’re located just off the AT. 
  • You have to be a member of the PATC – Potomac Appalachian Trail Club – to reserve a cabin. 
  • Big Meadows, in the southern part, has a resort next to it. 
  • Waysides – three of them. Here you can replenish your gear. Think of them as a convenience store. 
  • In theory you could limit the food you carry in and supply on trail. 
  • They also have kitchens. 
  • Your supposed to camp a 1/4 mile from a wayside. But knowing there are hot meals, good luck with that. 
  • Two national park lodges in the park – one 1/3 of the way from the north and south points. 
  • Four trail towns close to the park: southern end Waynesboro, 50 miles south of Waynesboro is Buena Vista, Front Royal at top, Luray just south of Front Royal. 
  • Shuttle services – Mountain Valley Shuttle Service in Lorray from Duncannan to Daleville VA 
  • Rockfish Gap Outfitters in Waynesboro will shuttle you to Royal 
  • Ironically Jack suggests the following – Rockfish Gap to Cow Camp Gap (about 50 miles) gets you over 3 Ridges Mountain. You’ll hit a mountain called The Priest. A top 3 place on the AT for Jack. 
  • Jack recommends staying on top of the mountain. It’s just above a water supply. 
  • Good place to solo hike. 
  • Jack recommends checking in at every journal. 
  • Jack noted there was sufficient natural water supply points. 
  • June, July and August are wicked hot. Memorial Day and Labor Day are crowded. As is late October to watch the leaves change. 
  • Early spring is nice – no bugs. 
  • Mid-April is when the thru hikers start to come through. 
  • You can also kayak the Valley. 
  • Most AT miles are in VA. 
  • No campfires allowed. 



Mt and Valley Shuttle Service 

Duncannan, PA – Daleville, VA 



Rockfish Gap Outfitters 

.8m from Waynesborough 


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