Slaves, Prisoners, and Republican Freedom

Res Publica 17 (2):175-192 (2011)
Philip Pettit’s republican conception of freedom is presented as an alternative both to negative and positive conceptions of freedom. The basic idea is to conceptualize freedom as non-domination, not as non-interference or self-mastery. When compared to negative freedom, Pettit’s republican conception comprises two controversial claims: the claim that we are unfree if we are dominated without actual interference, and the claim that we are free if we face interference without domination. Because the slave is a widely accepted paradigm of the unfree person, the case of a slave with a non-interfering master is often cited as providing a good argument for the first republican claim and against a negative conception of freedom. One aim of this article is to raise doubts about whether this is true. The other aim of the article is to show that the prisoner—also a paradigm of the unfree person—presents a good argument against the second republican claim and in favour of a negative conception of freedom. This is called the ‘prisoner-argument’. It will be argued that neither Pettit’s distinction between free persons and free choices nor his distinction between compromising and conditioning factors of freedom can help to rebut the charge of the prisoner-argument
Keywords Philip Pettit  Liberty  Freedom  Domination  Interference  Republicanism  Slavery
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11158-011-9151-5
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,316
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Quentin Skinner (2001). Liberty before Liberalism. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 63 (1):172-175.

View all 34 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
K. Dowding (2011). Republican Freedom, Rights, and the Coalition Problem. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 10 (3):301-322.
R. B. Talisse (2014). Impunity and Domination: A Puzzle for Republicanism. European Journal of Political Theory 13 (2):121-131.
Christian List (2006). Republican Freedom and the Rule of Law. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 5 (2):201-220.
M. D. Harbour (2012). Non-Domination and Pure Negative Liberty. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 11 (2):186-205.
Boudewijn de Bruin (2009). Liberal and Republican Freedom. Journal of Political Philosophy 17 (4):418-439.
Philip Pettit (2006). Freedom in the Market. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 5 (2):131-149.
Philip Pettit (2003). Discourse Theory and Republican Freedom. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 6 (1):72-95.
Gerald Lang (2012). Invigilating Republican Liberty. Philosophical Quarterly 62 (247):273-293.
Robert S. Taylor (2013). Market Freedom as Antipower. American Political Science Review 107 (3):593-602.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

77 ( #61,996 of 1,926,202 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #269,835 of 1,926,202 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.