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24hourforums.com • View topic - Freedom

Freedom

Freedom

Postby spot » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:10 am

This is a massive topic, I suspect, but if we all take it slowly and try to be constructive we might come to an agreement of what freedom means, who has it and who doesn't.

Some posters in previous threads have claimed freedom's important, and that they have it, and that they can foresee circumstances in which they'll not have it any longer if X or Y happens.

So, what is it they have that they might lose?
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Re: Freedom

Postby Brian » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:19 am

"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: Freedom

Postby spot » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:40 am

I suppose you could, Brian, but don't you find that slightly impractical? We live in the world. We go out, we shop, we drive cars, we pay tax - what impact does "individual autonomy" have on what we choose to do, what we're obliged to do, what we'll be penalized for doing if we do it, or for not doing if we should have done it. We're going to have to go down into grubby details before we can emerge clutching a triumphant "individual autonomy". All it is so far is a synonym for freedom and if we stop there we'll have ourselves a circular definition instead of a better understanding.
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Re: Freedom

Postby Boba » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:21 am

Since there is no civilized society that is 100% free, you must look not at the definition of freedom, but at the degree of freedoms a society posesses. In the USA, we can freely travel to almost anywhere in the world. An exception would be, for example, Cuba. We are not allowed to go there. This takes some freedom from us. In some Communist countries, you are notr allowed to leave the country except under very limitted circumstances. Even in the US you must have a passport to travel internationally. This could be viewed as government intervention. I think that individual rights are also a good indicator. A "Free" society would offer more individual rights then an "Un-Free" society. I do not have the right to murder someone, but I do have the right to vote for whomever I choose. I have the right to own property, some people do not. I have the right to own firearms. I do not have the right to own Nuclear Devices. It is a matter of degrees, not whether a country is Free or not Free.
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Re: Freedom

Postby spot » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:17 pm

Different societies have different limitations. I'm not sure, for example, whether there are any public roads in your country where speed is unrestricted, though there certainly are in Europe. You mention "I have the right to own property, some people do not" - I wonder where you're thinking of, and what property you have in mind. If it's land, for example, then I agree there are some countries where freehold ownership isn't permitted to the private citizen, but other countries which do allow freehold have compulsory purchase to compensate. As I understand it, in some places if freehold land can have value added by building something different there, a court may order its sale at current value and transfer ownership to the person applying to improve it.

In all those instances a balance is being struck between personal freedom and the needs of society. I can't think of any area where such a balance isn't considered overriding and no absolute freedom exists. It might help if you offer an area where you think such an absolute applies. Your right to vote or to possess firearms which you mention would be absolute if ex-convicts also had it, but they (as far as I'm aware) don't which makes it a conditional right.
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Re: Freedom

Postby Boba » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:01 pm

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Re: Freedom

Postby spot » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:48 pm

The ability to vote as you see fit is an interesting one, given that it's illegal in Australia not to vote. Does that make Australia more free or less free? Should we look at the ability of election scrutineers to audit election results by recounting the ballot slips as filled in by the voters, rather than trusting proprietary computer accumulators with historical gaffes and no open verification, or do we decide some governments are inherently trustworthy while others fail to make the cut? Does the blatant corrupt counting in recent elections in Iraq and Afghanistan imply that those countries are currently less free than when they had international observers?

It would be reasonable to say every country on earth imposes massive intervention on the free market - we could explore that notion if you like, in as much detail as we need in order to decide its truth. Many countries at various times impose conscription into the armed forces - does that make them less free? Switzerland, Finland and Israel spring to mind. Was US and UK society less free when conscription existed there? Perhaps we could also look at the size of no-fly government restriction lists by country, or the extent to which each refuses to issue passports for foreign travel on request.

There's also the matter brought up earlier with regard to constitutional arrangements, in particular the notion that a constitutional monarchy inherently limits freedom more than alternative forms of governance.

Counterbalancing these notions of perpetual guaranteed freedoms is the alternative approach of legally binding rights which can be imposed through the courts. I can't think of any European legislature which discusses freedom but they're quite effective at developing international treaty rights alongside the UN and working toward their implementation, starting with their own domestic laws. Rights legislation is something I can comprehend far more readily than freedom, though that's perhaps a cultural inheritance on my part.
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Re: Freedom

Postby MADNOTBAD » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:20 pm

No-one regardless of country is free. Forgetting Councils and Governments, to be totally free Is to be Un-awnserable to every-one and every-thing. Even the basic need to feed Is a constraint.
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Re: Freedom

Postby Boba » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:26 pm

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Re: Freedom

Postby Boba » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:05 pm

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