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Chapter 4

PO101 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Robert Nozick, Justice As Fairness, John Stuart Mill

Political Science
Course Code
Dejan Guzina

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The World at a Glance
- German elections
- Trump, sport superstars and the American flag
- Spain: the government is cracking down on the referendum vote
Security vs. Freedom
- Security
o Freedom from danger or injury
o Hoes’ oet o the state of atue: ellu aiu ota oes (a of
all against all)
- Liberty
o Negative vs. positive liberty (Isaiah Berlin)
o Harm principle (John Stewart Mill)
o Justice as fairness (John Rawls)
- Rights
o Civil
o Political
o Social
o Economic
o Cultural
Constraints on Freedom
- Freedom = liberty
- Generally understood as good
- We ight hae gouds fo liitig feedo to potet o pusue othe good that e
- Freedom as absence of constraint
- Nondemocratic Government as Constraint
o May be no necessary relationship between freedom and the absence of
o Possible to imagine a dictatorship with freedom
o Democracy can limit freedom
- Physical coercion as a constraint
o i.e. slavery or imprisonment
o unfair or discriminatory laws may also fall into this category because the cost of
breaking the law such as long prison sentences or even the death penalty are
so high that they often equivalent to physical constraints
- Physical incapacity as a constraint
o We are unfree when physical impairment prevents us from doing what we want
o Some constraints are accepted if they are beyond the control of human agency
- Rationality as a constraint
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o Freedom can be justifiably limited according to how rational we are
o Danger in the claim that only rational behaviour is free because there is no
means to be clear to what rational behavior is
- Psychological influences as a constraint
o We can be driven to behave in certain ways by external influences that affect the
way we think
- Economic constraints
o The state can increase freedom by intervening on the lives of individuals
Negative and Positive Freedom
- Distinction between positive and negative freedom dates back to ancient Greece
- John Locke argues for negative freedoms, or the right to non-interference
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau argues for positive freedom, or the duty of the state to provide a
decent standard of living
- Isiah Berlin (1909-1997)
- Negatie liet o feedo fo
o What is the area within which the subject --- is or should be left to do or be
hat is ale to do o e ithout itefeee  othe pesos?
- Positie liet o feedo to
o What, o ho, is the soue of otol o itefeee that a deteie
someoe to do, o e, this athe tha that?
- Area of control (negative freedom) and source of control (positive freedom)
- Ability to be self-governing is crucial for advocates of the latter
- Two types of rights are protected in two separate covenants
o International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
o International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
Is Freedom Special?
- Justifying freedom is different from defining it
o If we define freedom in such a way the requires state intervention to equalize
resources, the two concepts are not opposed
- Many argue that freedom is a basic human right but we must ask why people value
freedom so highly
- Why should freedom be valued?
- What are the justifications for freedom?
- Is it a basic human right?
- Does it conflict with cultural pluralism, which sees competing norms of behavior as
- Mill, Utilitarianism, and Freedom
o John Stuart Mill in On Liberty (1859) argues that greater freedom leads to
greater happiness
Utilitaia’s ould hae to thik had aout ehaious people fid
offensive but do not directly cause harm
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