Liberty as Non‐Domination

Philip Pettit

in Republicanism

Published in print September 1999 | ISBN: 9780198296423
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600081 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

 Liberty as Non‐Domination

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Interference involves an intentional or quasi‐intentional worsening of someone's choice situation and occurs on an arbitrary basis to the extent that it is not forced to track the interests and ideas of those who suffer the interference. One party dominates another just so far as they have the capacity to interfere on an arbitrary basis in some of the other's choices; where such domination occurs, it will tend to be a matter of common knowledge among relevant parties but that is not part of the definition. Domination in the sense defined may occur without actual interference: it requires only the capacity for interference; and interference may occur without any domination: if the interference is not arbitrary then it will not dominate. Non‐domination may be advanced in a society either through people coming to have equal powers, or through a legal regime stopping people from dominating one another without itself dominating anyone in turn. When someone enjoys non‐domination, it will usually be a matter of common knowledge among relevant parties, so that non‐domination has a subjective and inter‐subjective aspect: it is associated with tranquillity, in Montesquieu's phrase, and with the ability to look others in the eye. Notwithstanding the allegations of Paley and early liberals, freedom as non‐domination is not a confused ideal, it comes in degrees both of intensity and extent, and it is not an impossibly radical ideal; the rich demands that it would make on the state look capable of being satisfied in our world, even if they were not capable of satisfaction in Paley's.

Keywords: arbitrariness; choice; domination; freedom; interference; Montesquieu; William Paley; power; tranquillity

Chapter.  13506 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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