New Projects Seminar Series at the GSSR

The GSSR announces a new series of seminars addressed both to doctoral students and academic staff. The seminars aim to bring together students and established researchers working in the same field, thus promoting closer interaction and future collaboration between them.

During the seminars doctoral students will present for discussion well-advanced research projects, with experienced scholars from various academic centres in Poland and abroad invited to take the role of commentators.

The seminars will take place on the Zoom platform and are open to all.

The first seminar is scheduled for February 17th at 15:00 Warsaw time (CET) with Helen Grela presenting the topic: The Lockean and Smithian Roots of Entitlement Theory: Labor, Money, and the Transition to the Free Market System.

Join Zoom Meeting:

  • Meeting ID: 839 7048 4305
  • Passcode: 890694

Further seminars are planned for March 3rd H: 13:00, March 16th H: 15:00, and March 30th H: 16:00.


15:00  Barbara Barysz – Chair of the seminar – Welcome address

15:05  Michał Federowicz and Adam Lipszyc – Opening of the New Projects Seminar Series

15:10  Andrzej Leder – Introductory remarks on the philosophy of money and property

15:15  Helen Grela –  The Lockean and Smithian Roots of Entitlement Theory:  Labor, Money, and the Transition to the Free Market System

15:45  Randall Auxier (Southern Illinois University) – Commentator

16:00  Discussion

16:45  Closing remarks

The Lockean and Smithian Roots of Entitlement Theory:  Labor, Money, and the Transition to the Free Market System

Helen Grela


Nozick famously opens Anarchy, State and Utopia by asserting: “Individuals have rights and there are things no person or group may do to them without violating their rights.” His Entitlement Theory project (ET) was an attempt to provide distribution principles that respect the individual rights of life, liberty and property. Nozick asserts that any holding arising in accordance with ET, which requires a historical sequence of just individual actions, is itself just. Accordingly, Nozick discredits any form of state taxation and redistribution, even to alter the radical inequalities that ET seems to produce, on the basis that it violates an individual’s natural rights. My research question is why does ET, based on the intuitively appealing idea of respecting rights, result in such a counterintuitive outcome as radical inequality in the first place?

I posit that the issue is not ET per se, but the fact that Nozick largely situates its operation in a free market society, which in turn requires the mediation of money for most transactions. To test this hypothesis, I will use Nozick’s own methodology of ‘potential logical explanation’ to determine whether both money and a capitalist style society can arise in a freedom-respecting way.

This chapter is the beginning of a longer enquiry into whether the free market system, or for that matter any system relying on the mediation of money can ever be the system of individual freedom that Nozick seeks to defend.  I begin by presenting Nozick’s own account of the transition from his moral starting point– a Lockean state of nature–to the free market system and, using his own criteria, highlight internal inconsistencies. I will then consider whether these inconsistencies can be addressed in a logical and rights-respecting way by examining the actual positions of Locke and Smith. 

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