The Concept of Security, Liberty, Fear and the State

In Philippe Bourbeau (ed.), Security: Dialogue Across Disciplines. Cambridge University Press. pp. 22-44 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Whilst security seems central to many moral and political problems, sustained examination of the concept by contemporary philosophers is rare. In this chapter I seek to re-ignite philosophical interest in security by uncovering some of the ways in which the concept has been both understood and misunderstood. I begin by exploring the scarce historical understandings of security within the Western philosophical canon, from the Epicureans through Hobbes and on to contemporary political philosophy, identifying the key themes which arise within the literature. I then provide an account of the structure of the concept of security, which lays bare its relationship to contemporary debates on the distinction between “natural” and “social” threats, on the political significance of fear, and on the nature of rights. Finally, I identify four key problems in moral and political philosophy – the balance between state and individual security, between liberty and security, the status of moral principles during emergencies and the trade-off between privacy and public safety – where a finer grained understanding of security can benefit normative theorising.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,174

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Miedo e inseguridad.Danilo Zolo - 2009 - Anales de la Cátedra Francisco Suárez 43:151 - 163.
El miedo en las sociedades más seguras de la historia.Javier de Lucas - 2009 - Anales de la Cátedra Francisco Suárez 43:85 - 92.
Social Risks and Demands for Security.Maria Laura Lanzillo - 2015 - Governare la Paura. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 8 (1).
Security, Knowledge and Well-Being.Stephen John - 2011 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (1):68-91.
Berlin’s Two Concepts of Positive Liberty.Janos Kis - 2013 - European Journal of Political Theory 12 (1):31-48.
Emotions, Fear and Security in Sen – Nussbaum's Capability Approch.Mattia Baglieri - forthcoming - Governare la Paura. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
Security: Against What? For What? With What?André Gorz - 1983 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1983 (58):158-168.


Added to PP

96 (#126,408)

6 months
27 (#38,975)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jonathan Herington
University of Rochester

Citations of this work

The Contribution of Security to Well-Being.Jonathan Herington - 2019 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 14 (3).
Climate-Related Insecurity, Loss and Damage.Jonathan Herington - 2017 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 20 (2):184-194.
Freedom, Security, and the COVID-19 Pandemic.Josette Anna Maria Daemen - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references