The Instability of Freedom as Noninterference: The Case of Isaiah Berlin

Ethics 121 (4):693-716 (2011)
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Abstract

In Hobbes, freedom of choice requires nonfrustration: the option you prefer must be accessible. In Berlin, it requires noninterference: every option, preferred or unpreferred, must be accessible—every door must be open. But Berlin’s argument against Hobbes suggests a parallel argument that freedom requires something stronger still: that each option be accessible and that no one have the power to block access; the doors should be open, and there should be no powerful doorkeepers. This is freedom as nondomination. The claim is that freedom as noninterference is an unstable alternative between freedom as nonfrustration and freedom as nondomination.

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Philip Pettit
Australian National University

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