Individual Freedom: Constraints

Ian Carter

in A Measure of Freedom

Published in print March 1999 | ISBN: 9780198294535
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598951 | DOI:
 Individual Freedom: Constraints

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In order to show that freedom is (at least theoretically) measurable, one must show that the different kinds of constraint on freedom (physical impossibility, threats, difficulty) can be aggregated so as to provide overall freedom judgements. This can be done by reducing all of these kinds of constraint to the constraint of physical impossibility. This solution does not involve a “restrictivist” conception of constraints on freedom. Once it is recognized that overall freedom is a function of the physical compossibility of actions, it should also be recognized that agents for whom particular actions are difficult or costly, or who are subjected to coercion, generally suffer reductions in their degrees of overall freedom. Further analysis of the notion of constraints shows that this liberal conception of freedom is not, as is often supposed, ultimately distinguishable either from traditionally socialist conceptions or from the republican conception recently proposed by Philip Pettit.

Keywords: compossibility; constraints on freedom; costs; difficulty; liberal; Philip Pettit; physical impossibility; republican; restrictivist; threats

Chapter.  13427 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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