Monday, September 04, 2006

Defining liberty

The word liberty as I understand it has a specific meaning. It's expressed well by Bruce Smith - Australia's own Adam Smith! - in Liberty and Liberalism (first published 1887, republished by the Centre for Independent Studies):
What is Liberty? Where does it begin? And what are its limits, if it has any?

The word in its primary signification means "freedom to do as one wishes; freedom from restraint". It is evident that the kind or extent of liberty [that] is calculated to encourage industry and the accumulation of the necessities and luxuries of life, and which is essential to the mental and moral development of a people, is not that which is signified by the word in its primary meaning. We must look for the true signification in the same source, but subject to certain important limitations.

Liberty [as] I understand it means "the freedom to do as one wishes; freedom from restraint - subject to the same or equal freedom in our fellows" or, to use the words of Herbert Spencer, "the liberty of each, limited only by the like liberty of all."
So to be free means to acknowledge limits to freedom.


At September 05, 2006 8:11 pm, Blogger TOR Hershman said...

"Defining liberty" + a wee bit more.

THEORY: Betwixt ¶¶ ¶¶

PRACTICE: Betwixt ~ ~

"The Pledge of Allegiance"

¶¶ I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America ¶¶

~ If I don't stand-up and move my lips everyone will STARE at me and
I'll get my ass kicked, within plain view of the teachers, in the
schoolyard ~

¶¶ and to the Republic for which it stands ¶¶

~ Yummy burger and
fries, yummy yum yum ~

¶¶ one Nation under God ¶¶

~ Separation of State and sanity,
do you swear on a bible,
a.k.a. Death to the Infidels ~

¶¶ indivisible ¶¶

~ Avert your eyes, it's one of THEM! ~

¶¶ with liberty and justice for all. ¶¶

~ It's time for the Fabulous Freedom Friends, starring Robert Blake,
O. J. Simpson and Phil Spector. With our very special guest stars,
John and Patsy Ramsey. Brought to by ENRON and Martha Stewart's fine
products at K (K is for Korporate Welfare) Mart. ~


"The American Liberal's Motto"

¶¶ _ I _ don't agree with what you said, but _ I _ will defend to the
death YOUR RIGHT to say it. ¶¶

~ The only bad money IS money that _ I _ am not getting a cut-of. ~


The American Conservatives Motto:
Human life is always more important
than property = We shoot looters.

¶¶ Freedom ¶¶
~ Drunk ~

¶¶ Liberty ¶¶
~ Wagering ~

¶¶ The Glory ¶¶
~ Beer Delivery Truck ~

¶¶ The Power ¶¶
~ Gun Store ~

¶¶ The Kingdom ¶¶
~ Prozac ~

¶¶ The Kingdom Forever ¶¶
~ Double dose of Prozac ~

¶¶ Level Playing Field ¶¶
~ WARNING: Land Mines ~

¶¶ Rugged Individualism ¶¶
~ Unethical and/or Illegal Collusion ~

¶¶ Compassion ¶¶
~ Thermonuclear Devices ~

¶¶ Kindness ¶¶
~ Razor Wire ~

¶¶ You have the right to remain silent ¶¶
~ "I see nothing, I know nothing!"
(Special thanks to Hogan's Heros'' Sergeant Schultz) ~

¶¶ Justice ¶¶
~ Too much justice is bad
(Special thanks to George W. Bush for this definition) ~

¶¶ Miracle ¶¶
~ Disaster ~

¶¶ Lucky Miracle ¶¶
~ Deadly Disaster ~

Stay on Groovin' (It's late, moi hopes moi didn't screwerate that too much)

At September 06, 2006 9:56 am, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

Tor, I'm assuming the drugs must be really good...

At September 06, 2006 10:46 am, Anonymous Jason Soon said...

see PJ O'Rourke

Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It's not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights -- the "right" to education, the "right" to health care, the "right" to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery -- hay and a barn for human cattle.

There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.


There are just two rules of governance in a free society:

Mind your own business.
Keep your hands to yourself.
Bill, keep your hands to yourself. Hillary, mind your own business.

At September 06, 2006 10:54 pm, Blogger Steve Edwards said...

Sukrit - I was hoping you'd take a pot shot at that recent animal rights post of mine. Will you get time?

At September 07, 2006 1:48 am, Blogger skepticlawyer said...

I thought he had already... we had a big discussion about animal rights over here a while ago.

At September 08, 2006 3:01 am, Anonymous Sarah St Lazy Legs said...

Please feel at liberty to mosey on over to MSN at anytime Mooey.

At September 08, 2006 9:55 am, Blogger Sukrit Sabhlok said...

Steve, in broad terms I agree with you 100%. It is not a priori unethical to treat animals badly for human purposes. You've just put it far more bluntly than I would.

That does not mean I won't vigorously oppose any moves to legalise beastility or indiscriminate abuse of animals. The issue of animals not being able to give consent does arise. It arises when you kill them for food, and it arises when you abuse them sexually.

We can encourage a sustainable level of animal population by allocating private property rights to those involved in the industries that harvest them for consumption purposes.

I will elaborate a bit more in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Peter Singer's book Animal Liberation has some interesting arguments that I'd be keen to see you rebut. :)


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