Matt Zwolinski recently posted a piece probing the question of whether a unconditional basic income might be a good idea from a broadly libertarian or at least classical liberal perspective.
One of his arguments was based on the fact of historical injustice. Suppose a purely historical theory of justice in holdings were true: any distribution of wealth is just provided property holdings arose in a just way. The problem is that we know there was historical injustice. E.g., corporation that is successful today might have engaged in rent seeking sixty years ago. Perhaps it wouldn’t exist at all today if it hadn’t engaged in that rent seeking in the past, and thus perhaps anyone who owns stock in that business benefits from that past injustice. Or, e.g., while I purchased my plot of land from someone who purchased it from someone else, if we go back in time far enough, we’ll see a series of injust violent skirmishes over who controls that land. Or, e.g., Brown University was founded and funded in part by people who grew rich off the slave trade, and some of its buildings were built by slaves. Etc. Etc. Almost any item you own has a corrupt past.
Nozick says that we will need principles of rectification to tell us how to deal with past injustice, but he doesn’t say much about what those principles might be. (That’s not an oversight on his part, because Nozick didn’t need to give us a detailed theory of justice in order to make his point in ASU.) However, Nozick suggests that it’s possible that rectification might require redistribution, or a persistent welfare state, or whatnot.
KCL political theorist and my former colleague Adam Tebble has a neat paper here using Hayek to try to undermine Nozick’s claims here.