Liberty
Overview
 
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right
Right
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory...

, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

, and take responsibility for their actions. There are different conceptions of liberty, which articulate the relationship of individuals to society in different ways, including some which relate to life under a "social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

" or to existence in a "state of nature
State of nature
State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition that preceded governments...

", and some which see the active exercise of freedom and rights as essential to liberty.

Individualist
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

 and classical liberal
Classical liberalism
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

 conceptions of liberty typically consist of the freedom of individuals from outside compulsion or coercion
Coercion
Coercion is the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner by use of threats or intimidation or some other form of pressure or force. In law, coercion is codified as the duress crime. Such actions are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in the desired way...

, also known as negative liberty
Negative liberty
Negative liberty is defined as freedom from interference by other people, and is set in contrast to positive liberty, which is defined as an individual's freedom from inhibitions of the social structure within the society such as classism, sexism or racism and is primarily concerned with the...

, while Social liberal
Social liberalism
Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it believes the legitimate role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding...

 conceptions of liberty emphasize social structure and agency
Structure and agency
The question over the primacy of either structure or agency in human behavior is a central debate in the social sciences. In this context, "agency" refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. "Structure", by contrast, refers to the recurrent...

, or positive liberty
Positive liberty
Positive liberty is defined as having the power and resources to fulfill one's own potential ; as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from external restraint...

.

In feudal societies, a "liberty" was an area of allodial
Allodial title
Allodial title constitutes ownership of real property that is independent of any superior landlord, but it should not be confused with anarchy as the owner of allodial land is not independent of his sovereign...

 land in which the rights of the ruler, or monarch
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

, had been waived.
Opinions on what constitute liberty can vary widely, but can be generally classified as positive liberty
Positive liberty
Positive liberty is defined as having the power and resources to fulfill one's own potential ; as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from external restraint...

 and negative liberty
Negative liberty
Negative liberty is defined as freedom from interference by other people, and is set in contrast to positive liberty, which is defined as an individual's freedom from inhibitions of the social structure within the society such as classism, sexism or racism and is primarily concerned with the...

.
Quotations

Our history has shown us that insecurity threatens liberty. Yet, if our liberties are curtailed, we lose the values that we are struggling to defend.

The 9/11 Commission Report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States|National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

Liberty, next to religion has been the motive of good deeds and the common pretext of crime...

Lord Acton, in The History of Freedom in Antiquity (1877)

By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.

Lord Acton, in The History of Freedom in Antiquity (1877)

Liberty and good government do not exclude each other; and there are excellent reasons why they should go together. Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.

Lord Acton, in The History of Freedom in Antiquity (1877)

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Samuel Adams, in a speech at the Philadelphia State House (1 August 1776)

Ever since I arrived to a state of manhood, I have felt a sincere passion for liberty.

Ethan Allen, as quoted in "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" - American Heritage magazine Vol. 14, Issue 6 (October 1963)

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.

Louis Brandeis, in Olmstead v. United States|Olmstead v. United States (1928)

Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe.

Edmund Burke, in a letter to M. de Menonville (October 1789)

It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.

John Philpot Curran|John Philpot Curran, "Speech On the Right of Election" (1790) in Speeches of John Philpot Curran (1811)

Encyclopedia
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right
Right
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory...

, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

, and take responsibility for their actions. There are different conceptions of liberty, which articulate the relationship of individuals to society in different ways, including some which relate to life under a "social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

" or to existence in a "state of nature
State of nature
State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition that preceded governments...

", and some which see the active exercise of freedom and rights as essential to liberty.

Individualist
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

 and classical liberal
Classical liberalism
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets....

 conceptions of liberty typically consist of the freedom of individuals from outside compulsion or coercion
Coercion
Coercion is the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner by use of threats or intimidation or some other form of pressure or force. In law, coercion is codified as the duress crime. Such actions are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in the desired way...

, also known as negative liberty
Negative liberty
Negative liberty is defined as freedom from interference by other people, and is set in contrast to positive liberty, which is defined as an individual's freedom from inhibitions of the social structure within the society such as classism, sexism or racism and is primarily concerned with the...

, while Social liberal
Social liberalism
Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it believes the legitimate role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding...

 conceptions of liberty emphasize social structure and agency
Structure and agency
The question over the primacy of either structure or agency in human behavior is a central debate in the social sciences. In this context, "agency" refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. "Structure", by contrast, refers to the recurrent...

, or positive liberty
Positive liberty
Positive liberty is defined as having the power and resources to fulfill one's own potential ; as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from external restraint...

.

In feudal societies, a "liberty" was an area of allodial
Allodial title
Allodial title constitutes ownership of real property that is independent of any superior landlord, but it should not be confused with anarchy as the owner of allodial land is not independent of his sovereign...

 land in which the rights of the ruler, or monarch
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

, had been waived.

Philosophy

Opinions on what constitute liberty can vary widely, but can be generally classified as positive liberty
Positive liberty
Positive liberty is defined as having the power and resources to fulfill one's own potential ; as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from external restraint...

 and negative liberty
Negative liberty
Negative liberty is defined as freedom from interference by other people, and is set in contrast to positive liberty, which is defined as an individual's freedom from inhibitions of the social structure within the society such as classism, sexism or racism and is primarily concerned with the...

. Positive liberty asserts that freedom is found in a person's ability to exercise agency, particularly in the sense of having the power and resources to carry out their own will, without being inhibited by the structural inhibitions from society such as racism, classism or sexism. In the negative sense, one is considered free to the extent to which no person interferes with his or her activity. According to Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

, for example, "a free man is he that... is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do."

John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

, in his work, On Liberty
On Liberty
On Liberty is a philosophical work by British philosopher John Stuart Mill. It was a radical work to the Victorian readers of the time because it supported individuals' moral and economic freedom from the state....

, was the first to recognize the difference between liberty as the freedom to act and liberty as the absence of coercion. In his book, Two Concepts of Liberty
Two Concepts of Liberty
Two Concepts of Liberty was the inaugural lecture delivered by the liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin before the University of Oxford on 31 October 1958. It was subsequently published as a 57-page pamphlet by Oxford at the Clarendon Press...

, Isaiah Berlin
Isaiah Berlin
Sir Isaiah Berlin OM, FBA was a British social and political theorist, philosopher and historian of ideas of Russian-Jewish origin, regarded as one of the leading thinkers of the twentieth century and a dominant liberal scholar of his generation...

 formally framed the differences between these two perspectives as the distinction between two opposite concepts of liberty: positive liberty
Positive liberty
Positive liberty is defined as having the power and resources to fulfill one's own potential ; as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from external restraint...

 and negative liberty
Negative liberty
Negative liberty is defined as freedom from interference by other people, and is set in contrast to positive liberty, which is defined as an individual's freedom from inhibitions of the social structure within the society such as classism, sexism or racism and is primarily concerned with the...

. The latter designates a negative condition in which an individual is protected from tyranny and the arbitrary
Arbitrary
Arbitrariness is a term given to choices and actions subject to individual will, judgment or preference, based solely upon an individual's opinion or discretion.Arbitrary decisions are not necessarily the same as random decisions...

 exercise of authority
Authority
The word Authority is derived mainly from the Latin word auctoritas, meaning invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command. In English, the word 'authority' can be used to mean power given by the state or by academic knowledge of an area .-Authority in Philosophy:In...

, while the former refers to having the means or opportunity, rather than the lack of restraint, to do things.

Mill offered insight into the notions of soft tyranny and mutual liberty
Mutual liberty
Mutual liberty is an idea first coined by Alexis de Tocqueville in his 1835 work Democracy in America. In effect, Tocqueville was referring to the general nature of American society during the 19th century. It appeared to him, at least on the surface, that every citizen in the United States had the...

with his harm principle
Harm principle
The harm principle holds that the actions of individuals should only be limited to prevent harm to other individuals. John Stuart Mill first articulated this principle in On Liberty, where he argued that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized...

. It can be seen as important to understand these concepts when discussing liberty since they all represent little pieces of the greater puzzle known as freedom. In a philosophical sense, it can be said that morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 must supersede tyranny in any legitimate form of government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

. Otherwise, people are left with a societal system
System
System is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated whole....

 rooted in backwardness
Backwardness
An economically backward economy is defined as one which makes less progress than normal. USSR leader Gorbachev once said “If you don’t move forward, sooner or later you begin to move backward.” The backwardness model is a theory of economic growth created by Alexander Gerschenkron...

, disorder
Disorder
Disorder may refer to :* Chaos, unpredictability and in the metaphysical sense, it is the opposite of law and order* Civil disorder, one or more forms of disturbance caused by a group of people...

, and regression.

The concept of negative liberty has several noteworthy aspects. First, negative liberty defines a realm or "zone" of freedom (in the "silence of law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

"). In Berlin's words, "liberty in the negative sense involves an answer to the question 'What is the area within which the subject -- a person or group of persons -- is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons." Some philosophers have disagreed on the extent of this realm while accepting the main point that liberty defines that realm in which one may act unobstructed by others. Second, the restriction (on the freedom to act) implicit in negative liberty is imposed by a person or persons and not due to causes such as nature, lack, or incapacity. Helvetius
Claude Adrien Helvétius
Claude Adrien Helvétius was a French philosopher and littérateur.-Life:...

 expresses this point clearly: "The free man is the man who is not in irons, nor imprisoned in a gaol (jail), nor terrorized like a slave by the fear of punishment... it is not lack of freedom not to fly like an eagle or swim like a whale."

The dichotomy of positive and negative liberty is considered specious by political philosophers in traditions such as socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, social democracy
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

, libertarian socialism
Libertarian socialism
Libertarian socialism is a group of political philosophies that promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, stateless society without private property in the means of production...

, and Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

. Some of them argue that positive and negative liberty are indistinguishable in practice, while others claim that one kind of liberty cannot exist independently of the other. A common argument is that the preservation of negative liberty requires positive action on the part of the government or society to prevent some individuals from taking away the liberty of others.

A socialist, liberal and progressive defines liberty as being connected to the reasonably equitable distribution of wealth, arguing that the unrestrained concentration of wealth (the means of production) into only a few hands negates liberty. In other words, without relatively equal ownership, the subsequent concentration of power and influence into a small portion of the population inevitably results in the domination
Domination
-Books:* The Domination, an alternate history / science-fiction / alternate reality fictional, by S. M. Stirling.-Music:* Dominant , a diatonic scale step and diatonic function in tonal music theory...

 of the wealthy and the subjugation of the poor. Thus, freedom and material equality are seen as intrinsically connected. On the other hand, the classical liberal argues that wealth cannot be evenly distributed without force being used against individuals which reduces individual liberty.

Freedom as a triadic relation

In 1980, Gerald MacCallum argued that proponents of positive and negative liberty converge on a single definition of liberty, but simply have different approaches in establishing it. According to MacCallum, freedom is a triadic relationship: "x is/is not free from y to do/not to do or become/not become z". In this way, rather than defining liberty in terms of two separate paradigms, positive and negative liberty, he defined liberty as a single, complete formula.

The question is whether this formula fully captures what positive liberty means. Positive liberty, understood as "internal forces which determine how a person shall act" is saying more than 'x is free to do z.' One is free when one becomes the ideal of oneself, which includes MacCallum's triadic relation; but the latter alone is insufficient to fully capture what positive liberty means.

Concepts of liberty in history

The first known use of the word freedom in a political context dates back to the 24th century BC, in a text describing the restoration of social and economic liberty in Lagash
Lagash
Lagash is located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah. Lagash was one of the oldest cities of the Ancient Near East...

, a Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian city-state. Urukagina
Urukagina
Urukagina , alternately rendered as Uruinimgina or Irikagina, was a ruler of the city-state Lagash in Mesopotamia...

, the king of Lagash
Lagash
Lagash is located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah. Lagash was one of the oldest cities of the Ancient Near East...

, established the first known legal code to protect citizens from the rich and powerful. Known as a great reformer, Urukagina established laws that forbade compelling the sale of property
Property
Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation...

 and required the charges against the accused to be stated before any man accused of a crime could be punished. This is the first known example of any form of due process
Due process
Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

 in the history of humanity.

Like Urukagina, most ancient freedoms focused on negative liberty, protecting the less fortunate from harassment or imposition. Other ancient legal codes, such as the Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating to ca. 1780 BC . It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay...

, similarly forbade compulsion in economic matters, like the sale of land, and made it clear that when a rich man murders a poor one, it is still murder.
Still, these codes depended on a certain virtuousness of kings and ministers, which was far from reliable.

The modern concept of liberty has its origins in the Greek concepts of freedom and slavery. To be free, to the Greeks, was to not have a master, to be independent from a master (to live like one likes). That was the original Greek concept of freedom. It is closely linked with the concept of democracy, as Aristotle put it:

"This, then, is one note of liberty which all democrats affirm to be the principle of their state. Another is that a man should live as he likes. This, they say, is the privilege of a freeman, since, on the other hand, not to live as a man likes is the mark of a slave. This is the second characteristic of democracy, whence has arisen the claim of men to be ruled by none, if possible, or, if this is impossible, to rule and be ruled in turns; and so it contributes to the freedom based upon equality."

So to the Greeks democracy was the system of government of a free society.

The populations of the Persian Empire enjoyed some degree of freedom. Citizens of all religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s and ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s were given the same rights and had the same freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

, women had the same rights as men, and slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 was abolished. All the palaces of the kings of Persia were built by paid workers in an era where slaves typically did such work.

In the Buddhist Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

 of ancient India
History of India
The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups had some rights to freedom
Freedom (political)
Political freedom is a central philosophy in Western history and political thought, and one of the most important features of democratic societies...

, tolerance
Toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

, and equality
Equality before the law
Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle under which each individual is subject to the same laws....

. The need for tolerance on an egalitarian
Egalitarianism
Egalitarianism is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort among moral agents, whether persons or animals. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that equality contains the idea of equity of quality...

 basis can be found in the Edicts
Edicts of Ashoka
The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 269 BCE to 231 BCE. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Bangladesh, India,...

 of Ashoka the Great, which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. The slaughter or capture of prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 was also condemned by Ashoka. Slavery was also non-existent in the Maurya Empire. However, according to Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, "Ashoka's orders seem to have been resisted right from the beginning."

Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 also embraced certain limited forms of liberty, even under the rule of the Roman Emperors. However, these liberties were accorded only to Roman citizens
Roman citizenship
Citizenship in ancient Rome was a privileged political and legal status afforded to certain free-born individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance....

. Still, the Roman citizen enjoyed a combination of positive liberty (the right to a trial, a right of appeal, law and contract enforcement) and negative liberty (unhindered right to contract and the right to not be tortured). Many of the liberties enjoyed under Roman law endured through the Middle Ages, but were enjoyed solely by the nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

, never by the common man. The idea of unalienable and universal liberties had to wait until the Age of Enlightenment.

In Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

, freedom is written 自由(ziyou). 自(zi) is the character for self, and 由(you) is the character to follow, with an additional connotation of reason. Liberty thus implies a necessary connection between individualism and a rational duty.

Social contract

The social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

 theory, invented by Hobbes, John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 and Rousseau, were among the first to provide a political classification of rights
Rights
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory...

, in particular through the notion of sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 and of natural rights
Natural rights
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable...

. The thinkers of the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 reasoned
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

 the assertion that law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law gave the king
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 his power, rather than the king's power giving force to law. The divine right of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

 was thus opposed to the sovereign
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

's unchecked auctoritas
Auctoritas
Auctoritas is a Latin word and is the origin of English "authority." While historically its use in English was restricted to discussions of the political history of Rome, the beginning of phenomenological philosophy in the twentieth century expanded the use of the word.In ancient Rome, Auctoritas...

. This conception of law would find its culmination in Montesquieu's thought. The conception of law as a relationship between individuals, rather than families, came to the fore, and with it the increasing focus on individual liberty
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

 as a fundamental reality, given by "Nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

 and Nature's God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

," which, in the ideal state
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

, would be as expansive as possible. The Enlightenment created then, among other ideas, liberty: that is, of a free individual being most free within the context of a state which provides stability of the laws. Later, more radical philosophies such as socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 articulated themselves in the course of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 and in the 19th century.

Modern perspectives

The modern conceptions of democracy
Democracy (varieties)
-Direct democracy:Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy, is any form of government based on a theory of civics in which all citizens can directly participate in the decision-making process...

, whether representative democracies or other types of democracies, are all found on the Rousseauist
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

 idea of popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

.

Liberalism is a political
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 current embracing several historical and present-day ideologies that claim defense of individual liberty as the purpose of government. Two main strands are apparent, although both are founded on an individualist
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

 ideology
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

. Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism is the ideological belief in giving all people economic freedom, and as such granting people with more basis to control their own lives and make their own mistakes. It is an economic philosophy that supports and promotes individual liberty and choice in economic matters and...

 is the right of the individual to contract, trade and operate in a market free of constraint. Social liberalism
Social liberalism
Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it believes the legitimate role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding...

 is the right to dissent from orthodox tenets or established authorities in political or religious matters. Both are core political issues, and highly contentious.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 states that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person."

United States

In the United States Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut
Griswold v. Connecticut
Griswold v. Connecticut, , was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The case involved a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives...

, Justice William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
William Orville Douglas was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. With a term lasting 36 years and 209 days, he is the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court...

 argued that liberties relating to personal relationships, such as marriage, have a unique primacy of place in the hierarchy of freedoms. Jacob M. Appel has summarized this principle:
A school of thought popular among U.S. libertarians holds that there is no tenable distinction between the two sorts of liberty—that they are, indeed, one and the same, to be protected (or opposed) together. In the context of U.S. constitutional law
Constitutional law
Constitutional law is the body of law which defines the relationship of different entities within a state, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary....

, for example, they point out that the constitution twice lists "life, liberty, and property" without making any distinctions within that troika.

Anarcho-Individualists, such as Max Stirner
Max Stirner
Johann Kaspar Schmidt , better known as Max Stirner , was a German philosopher, who ranks as one of the literary fathers of nihilism, existentialism, post-modernism and anarchism, especially of individualist anarchism...

, demanded the utmost respect for the liberty of the individual. Some in the U.S. see protecting the ideal of liberty as a conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 policy, because this would conform to the spirit of individual liberty that they consider is at the heart of the American constitution. Some think liberty is almost synonymous with democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, at least in one sense of that word, while others see conflicts or even opposition between the two concepts, with democracy being nothing more than the tyranny of the majority.

Republican liberty

According to republican theorists of freedom, like the historian Quentin Skinner
Quentin Skinner
Quentin Robert Duthie Skinner is the Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary, University of London.-Biography:...

 or the philosopher Philip Pettit
Philip Pettit
Philip Noel Pettit is an Irish philosopher and political theorist. He is Laurence Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University...

, one's liberty should not be viewed as the abscence of interference in one's actions, but as non-dependence. According to this view, that originates in the Roman Digest, to be a liber homo, a free man, means being in a state of non-dependence from another's arbitrary will. The second step of the argument of these neo-Roman writers, like Machiavelli, was that you have to be a member of a free self-governing civil association, a republic, if you are to enjoy individual liberty.

The predominance of this view of liberty among parliamentarians during the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 resulted to the creation of the liberal concept of freedom as non-interference in Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan
Leviathan (book)
Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil — commonly called simply Leviathan — is a book written by Thomas Hobbes and published in 1651. Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan...

.

Liberty Canon

  • On Liberty
    On Liberty
    On Liberty is a philosophical work by British philosopher John Stuart Mill. It was a radical work to the Victorian readers of the time because it supported individuals' moral and economic freedom from the state....

    - John Stuart Mill
    John Stuart Mill
    John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

    , 1859
  • Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - James Fitzjames Stephen
    James Fitzjames Stephen
    Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, 1st Baronet was an English lawyer, judge and writer. He was created 1st Baronet Stephen by Queen Victoria.-Early life:...

    , 1874
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK