Liberal and Republican Freedom

Journal of Political Philosophy 17 (4):418-439 (2009)
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This paper argues that liberal freedom (non-interference) is epistemologically prior to republican freedom (non-domination). I start investigate three relations between liberal and republican freedom: (i) Logical Equivalence, or the question whether republican freedom entails liberal freedom (and vice versa); (ii) Degree Supervenience, or whether changes in the degree (amount, quantity) of republican freedom are mirrored by changes in the degree of liberal freedom (and vice versa); and (iii) Epistemological Priority, that is, whether knowledge about arrangements of republican freedom presupposes knowledge about arrangements of liberal freedom. If Logical Equivalence holds, liberals are right to claim that republicans have not introduced a new concept of freedom. It is easy to see, though, that Logical Equivalence does not hold. If Degree Supervenience holds, liberals can maintain that while republican freedom is a new concept of freedom, fostering or promoting it is not very different from fostering or promoting liberal freedom. Degree Supervenience does not hold either, though, and as a result two straightforward counterarguments against republican freedom fail. Yet, I argue, first, that the relation of Epistemological Priority holds: knowing something about arrangements of republican freedom presupposes that you know something about arrangements of liberal freedom. Using Epistemological Priority, I show, second, that the benefits claimed for republican freedom over and above liberal freedom (it minimizes the need for strategic deference, it minimizes uncertainty, and it minimizes subordination) can be accounted for in purely liberal terms.



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Boudewijn de Bruin
University of Groningen

Citations of this work

Surveillance, freedom and the republic.J. Matthew Hoye & Jeffrey Monaghan - 2018 - European Journal of Political Theory 17 (3):343-363.
Slaves, Prisoners, and Republican Freedom.Fabian Wendt - 2011 - Res Publica 17 (2):175-192.
The Liberal Value of Privacy.Boudewijn de Bruin - 2010 - Law and Philosophy 29 (5):505-534.

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