Compare and contrast Nozick and Rawls approaches to the issue of Indigenous Australians land rights

Essay by vivUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, August 2007

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Compare and contrast Rawls' and Nozicks' approaches to social justice with respect to the issues facing indigenous Australians.

To what extent in theory and in practice has social justice been achieved by the Australian governments Native Title Claim 1992 legislation?

Recognition of aboriginal land rights

Ultimately social justice would have been better achieved if Nozicks' framework had been closer followed with minimal state interference- unlike in practice with the lack of effectiveness of Native Title, 10 Point Plan

I imagine that with Nozick you are arguing that if Now Rawls' difference principle would seem to be something else entirely - looking at distribution of what we have - not rectification. You might say that given Indigenous people's situation, this type of redistribution is required (with Rawls) BUT this was not the principle motivating Native Title claims. Perhaps it would help to separate out these three types of claims and see how the first can be grounded in Nozick, the second in Rawls


Political theorists have begun to re-examine claims by indigenous peoples to lands which were expropriated in the course of sixteenth eighteenth century European expansionism.

In Australia, these issues have captured public attention as they emerged in two central High Court cases: Mabo (1992) and Wik (1996), which recognize pre-existing common law rights of native title held by indigenous people prior to European contact and, in some cases, continue to be held to the present day.

The theoretical significance of the two Australian cases is examined and the links drawn out between the current debate about Aboriginal land rights in Australia and the wider philosophical debate about indigenous land rights, property rights, and indigenous justice as characterized by Jeremy Waldron and James Tully. Justice towards indigenous groups requires substantial acknowledgement and recognition of the values and institutions of...