The Quality of Freedom

The Quality of Freedom

The Quality of Freedom

The Quality of Freedom

Synopsis

In his provocative new book, Matthew Kramer offers a systematic theory of freedom that challenges most of the other major contemporary treatments of the topic.

Excerpt

Only one terminological caveat is necessary here. Throughout this book, I use the terms 'liberty' and 'freedom' (and 'liberties' and 'freedoms') interchangeably. In construing those terms as synonyms, I am in accordance with much of everyday parlance and with most philosophical writings on social and political freedom. To be sure, theorists have sometimes distinguished between 'liberty' and 'freedom', and the resultant analyses have occasionally been illuminating. (For a perceptive example, see Jonathan Wolff, 'Freedom, Liberty, and Property', 11 Critical Review 345 (1997).) Nonetheless, for two main reasons, my treatment of those terms as synonyms is advisable within this book. First, it averts the stylistic rigidity and monotony that would ensue if 'freedom' and 'liberty' were not employed interchangeably. Second, if I were to differentiate between those familiar terms in order to mark conceptual distinctions, I would perhaps seem to be implying that those distinctions—and the patterns of usage that signal them—are consistently upheld in ordinary discourse. Any such appearance would be unfortunate. For one thing, as has already been noted, 'freedom' and 'liberty' are often used interchangeably in everyday pronouncements. Moreover, although ordinary usage is a starting point that certainly cannot be ignored, it is a decidedly imperfect guide for philosophical analysis. It is neither exact nor univocal. For the highlighting of conceptual distinctions, then, my reliance on terms and phrases less familiar than the unadorned 'freedom' and 'liberty' is warranted on more than stylistic grounds.

Several excerpts from Chapters 2 and 3 , with many modifications, have been published in the following journals: Journal of Political Philosophy ('Freedom, Unfreedom, and Skinner's Hobbes'), published by Blackwell Publishing; Inquiry ('On the Unavoidability of Actions'), published by Routledge; Political Studies ('Why Freedoms Do Not Exist by Degrees'), published by Blackwell Publishing; Current Legal Problems ('Freedom as Normative Condition, Freedom as Physical Fact'), published by Oxford University Press; and Politics, Philosophy, and Economics ('On the Counterfactual Dimension of Negative Liberty'), published by Sage Publications. I am very grateful to these journals for permitting me to republish the aforementioned excerpts, with numerous alterations. I am likewise indebted to these journals' anonymous readers for their salutary comments.

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