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Jan Narveson in 2008. Photo by Matt Buffon, Institute of Liberal Studies. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Jan Narveson
Born Erskine, Minnesota
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Political philosophy
Main interests liberalism, libertarian anarchism, contractarianism
Notable ideas contractarian libertarianism
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Jan Narveson, OC (born 1936) is professor of philosophy emeritus at the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. An anarcho-capitalist and contractarian, Narveson's form of libertarian anarchism is deeply influenced by the thought of Robert Nozick and David Gauthier.

Life and work[]

Narveson was born in Erskine, Minnesota, United States. He studied at the University of Chicago where he obtained a B.A. in political science and in philosophy; he then spent a year at the University of Oxford on a traveling fellowship before earning a PhD at Harvard University in 1961. His libertarian views have evolved from dissatisfaction with utilitarianism.Template:Citation needed

A prolific author, Narveson has written hundreds of essays, reviews and articles for publication. A fierce critic of Marxism, he is also known in the University of Waterloo for taking part in many on-campus debates. In 2002 he published Respecting Persons in Theory and Practice (2002), a collection of his most influential essays spanning the length of his career. His most recent work is You and the State: A Short Introduction to Political Philosophy. Narveson is a long-time member of the Ontario Libertarian Party, and currently sits on its Ethics Committee.

Apart from his libertarian work, he is the founder/president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society - a long-running venue for classical chamber music.[1]

In 2003, Narveson was made an Officer of the Order of Canada by past Governor-General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson.

Since 2006, Narveson has been president of the Institute for Liberal Studies.


  • Morality and Utility. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967.
  • Moral Issues. Oxford University Press, 1983.
  • The Libertarian Idea. Temple University Press, 1988.
    • Paperback edition (with new preface). Broadview Press, 2001.
  • Political Correctness: For and Against (co-authored with Marilyn Friedman). Roman & Littlefield. 1995.
  • Moral Matters. 2nd ed. Broadview Press, 1999.
  • Respecting Persons in Theory and Practice: Essays on moral and political philosophy. Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.
  • You and the State. Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
  • This is Ethical Theory. Open Court, 2010.
  • 'Are Liberty and Equality Compatible? Cambridge University Press, 2010.

See also[]


External links[]

Audio / video
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