Freedom and its unavoidable trade‐off

Analytic Philosophy 65 (1):22–36 (2024)
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Abstract

In the debate on how we ought to define political freedom, some definitions are criticized for implying that no one can ever be free to perform any action. In this paper, I show how the possibility of freedom depends on a definition that finds an appropriate balance between absence of interference and protection against interference. To assess the possibility of different conceptions of freedom, I consider the trade-offs they make between these two dimensions. I find that pure negative freedom is clearly possible. Republican freedom might also be possible, though its protection requirement is too vague for a definitive verdict. Finally, the recently proposed ‘freedom as independence’ is impossible since it is an attempt to avoid the unavoidable trade-off.

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Lars Moen
University of Vienna

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