Chapter 4 Lecture Notes

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Political Science
POLI 100
Christopher Erickson

CHAPTER 4 LECTURE NOTES Freedom and Liberty Freedom and liberty are interchangeable termsFreedom like democracy is an essentially contested concept o Freedom is defined as a contested term o This doesnt mean that we just dont know the definition yetA reasonable point is to define freedom as the absence of constraints Constrains of FreedomPhysical coercion is the most obvious form of freedom o Handcuffs blindfolds etcPhysical incapacity is a constraint but it is only related to freedom in our sense if for example a disabled person is denied access to resources which would improve her quality of life o Wheelchair use with only stairs availableSome theorists notably JeanJacques Rousseau have discussed freedom in relation to moral conduct or rationality ie only the moral or the rational can truly be freeThis is highly controversial since morality and rationality are such vigorously contested topics o What might look rational to someone could look immoral to something elseOthers argue that we are not free if we are subjected to powerful psychological influences like propaganda Again this is a controversial aspect of the topic o Some people believe that if you are bombarded with propaganda your horizon of what you can know is limitedthus making you not freeFinally we can be said to be unfree if we lack sufficient economic resourcesIn liberal democracies it is generally accepted that the state should guarantee a minimum standard of living to ensure that everyone is free from the threat of starvation Negative and Positive LibertyGerman theorist Erich Fromm 19001980 in Fear of Freedom 1941 marked a distinction between two types of freedom o Freedom from o Freedom toIsaiah Berlin 190997 argued that liberty could be divided into two distinct concepts o Negative liberty o Positive liberty
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