Freedom as a political ideal

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4 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION I shall assume that a well-ordered state is one that promotes the freedom of its subjects. My question is what is the kind of freedom that the state ought to promote? This question is different from the question of what freedom is. It might be thought, for example, that freedom consists in the autonomous pursuit of valuable goals and projects, but that the state cannot directly promote this freedom. On this view, the state would not be able to make its citizens free. However, it might be able to do things that make it easier or more likely for them to be free. The freedom that the state promotes might be merely an aspect of or a condition for the freedom that really matters. A political ideal of freedom tells us what kind of freedom the state ought to promote. If the ideal is sound, and if a state successfully promotes the kind of freedom that this political ideal identifies, then the state will have done all that it can do to promote the freedom of its subjects, even if some of its subjects remain substantially unfree. My purpose in this essay is to articulate and defend a particular ideal of political freedom. This ideal holds that the state ought to promote and sustain an environment in which its subjects are best able to carry out their plans and to form new ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAutonomy
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780511550119
ISBN (Print)0521534992, 9780521534994
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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