Chapter

Liberty

Jonathan Riley

in Issues in Political Theory

Third edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print December 2014 | ISBN: 9780199680436
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191850936 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hepl/9780199680436.003.0003
Liberty

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This chapter examines the normative dimensions of liberty by relating the descriptive concept to normative theories of civil and political liberty, as well as security, defended by key thinkers in historical and contemporary debates. Purely descriptive concepts of liberty must be distinguished from normative concepts. Thomas Hobbes offered a valid descriptive concept of liberty as doing as one wishes. For John Stuart Mill, civil liberty or security must always include a basic right to do whatever one wishes, in relation to a natural domain of ‘purely self-regarding’ conduct. This chapter first considers the link between liberty and rights before discussing negative and positive liberty, civil liberty and political liberty, and the interrelationships among justice, security, and liberty. It concludes with an analysis of the right to absolute self-regarding liberty. A case study concerning the USA Patriot Act of 2001 and the war on terror is presented.

Keywords: liberty; political liberty; security; Thomas Hobbes; John Stuart Mill; civil liberty; rights; justice; Patriot Act of 2001; war on terror

Chapter.  13027 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory ; Political Philosophy

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