Res Publica 17 (2):175-192 (2011)

Fabian Wendt
Chapman University
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
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 50,488
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

The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Liberty before Liberalism.Quentin Skinner - 2001 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 63 (1):172-175.
An Essay on Rights.Hillel Steiner - 1994 - Oxford, Uk ;Blackwell.

View all 38 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Freedom as Independence.Christian List & Laura Valentini - 2016 - Ethics 126 (4):1043–1074.
Freedom and Actual Interference.Jonah Goldwater - 2020 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 17 (2).
Neorepublicanism and the Domination of Posterity.Corey Katz - 2017 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 20 (3):294-313.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Republican Freedom, Rights, and the Coalition Problem.K. Dowding - 2011 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 10 (3):301-322.
Impunity and Domination: A Puzzle for Republicanism.R. B. Talisse - 2014 - European Journal of Political Theory 13 (2):121-131.
Reconstructing Republican Freedom.M. J. Thompson - 2013 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 39 (3):277-298.
Republican Freedom and the Rule of Law.Christian List - 2006 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 5 (2):201-220.
A Note on List's Modal Logic of Republican Freedom.Boudewijn de Bruin - 2008 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 7 (3):341-349.
Non-Domination and Pure Negative Liberty.M. D. Harbour - 2012 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 11 (2):186-205.
Freedom in the Market.Philip Pettit - 2006 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 5 (2):131-149.
Discourse Theory and Republican Freedom.Philip Pettit - 2003 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 6 (1):72-95.
Invigilating Republican Liberty.Gerald Lang - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (247):273-293.
Market Freedom as Antipower.Robert S. Taylor - 2013 - American Political Science Review 107 (3):593-602.


Added to PP index

Total views
110 ( #81,845 of 2,326,561 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #431,580 of 2,326,561 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes