Vlad Tarko - The varieties of liberty ideals (freedom-talk.com)


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Institute for Humane Studies, Symposium on Scholarship & a Free Society, 2013

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Vlad Tarko - The varieties of liberty ideals (freedom-talk.com)

  1. 1. The Varieties of Liberty IdealsVlad TarkoGeorge Mason UniversityEconomics Department, Mercatus CenterInstitute for Humane StudiesSymposium on Scholarship & a Free Society, 2013
  2. 2. Outline• History of the project• Philosophical foundation: 7 concepts of freedom, 21trade-offs• Understanding political debates:– Common good debate: individualism vs. communitarianism– The social justice debate: procedures vs. outcomes– The meaning of individualism: libertarians vs. progressives– The left-right debate: conservatives vs. progressives• Some empirics:– Do conservatives, progressives and libertariansunderstand freedom differently?– What kinds of freedom are they most willing to give up?
  3. 3. History of this project• Center for Institutional Analysis andDevelopment (CADI) in Bucharest• Funded by Konrad Adenauer Foundation• What I did:1. Review of the political philosophy literatureon liberty -> 7 concepts taxonomy2. Operationalizing the taxonomy -> survey3. Testing it a draft on undergrad students4. http://freedom-talk.com5. Analyze the data
  4. 4. http://freedom-talk.com
  5. 5. http://freedom-talk.com/results
  7. 7. 7 concepts of freedom• Freedom from constraints (negative)• Freedom of choice• Psychological autonomy• Freedom as welfare• Freedom under law• Self-governance (democracy & politicalindependence)• Tolerance(positive)
  8. 8. Freedom from constraints• Hobbes: “a freeman is he that, in those thingswhich by his strength and wit he is able to do, isnot hindered to do what he has a will to”(Leviathan)• Spencer: “Every man has freedom to do all that hewills, provided he infringes not the equal freedomof any other man” (Social Statics)• Milton Friedman: “Political freedom means theabsence of coercion of a man by his fellow men”(Capitalism and Freedom)• Rothbard: “Liberty is the absence of physicallycoercive interference or invasion of an individual’sperson and property” (Ethics of Liberty)
  9. 9. Freedom of choice• Ortega y Gasset: “Imagine two men, one of thepresent day and one of the 18th Century,possessed of equal fortunes relatively to money –values in their respective periods –, and comparethe stock of purchasable things offered to each.The difference is almost fabulous. The range ofpossibilities opened out before the present-daypurchaser has become practically limitless. […]Whereas the number of occupations in primitivelife can almost be counted on the fingers of onehand – shepherd, hunter, warrior, seer – the list ofpossible avocations today is immeasurably long”(Revolt of the Masses)
  10. 10. Psychological autonomy• Marcuse: “Liberty is self-determination, autonomy […] creatingthe society in which man is no longer enslaved by institutionswhich vitiate self-determination from the beginning” (Repressivetolerance)• Dewey: “Liberty is that secure release and fulfillment of personalpotentialities which take place only in rich and manifoldassociation with others: the power to be an individualized self-making a distinctive contribution and enjoying in its own way thefruits of association.” (The Public and Its Problems)• Charles Taylor: “obstacles can be internal as well as external […]capacities relevant to freedom must involve some self-awareness,self-understanding, moral discrimination and self-control,otherwise their exercise could not amount to freedom in the senseof self-direction […] where, for example, we are quite self-deceived, or utterly fail to discriminate properly the ends we seek,or have lost self-control, we can quite easily be doing what wewant in the sense of what we can identify as our wants, withoutbeing free; indeed, we can be further entrenching our unfreedom.”
  11. 11. Welfare: freedom from need• Sen: “Development requires the removal of majorsources of unfreedom: poverty as well as tyranny, pooreconomic opportunities as well as systematic socialdeprivation, neglect of public facilities as well asintolerance or over activity of repressive states.”(Development as freedom)• Barry Schwartz: “increased choice among goods andservices may contribute little or nothing to the kind offreedom that counts […] we do ourselves no favor whenwe equate liberty too directly with choice, as if wenecessarily increase freedom by increasing the numberof options available. Instead, I believe that we make themost of our freedom by learning to make good choicesabout the things that matter, while at the same timeunburdening ourselves from too much concern aboutthe things that don’t.” (Paradox of choice)
  12. 12. Freedom under law• Locke: “Freedom is not, as we are told, A Liberty for every Man todo what he lists: […] But a Liberty to dispose, and order, as he lists,his Persons, Actions, Possessions, and his whole Property, withinthe Allowance of those Laws under which he is; and therein not tobe subject to the arbitrary Will of another, but freely follow hisown.” (Second Treatise of Government)• Hayek: “the essential point” is that “the discretion left to theexecutive organs wielding coercive power should be reduced asmuch as possible […] While every law restricts individual freedomto some extent by altering the means which people may use in thepursuit of their aims, under the Rule of Law the government isprevented from stultifying individual efforts by ad hoc action.Within the known rules of the game the individual is free to pursuehis personal ends and desires, certain that the powers ofgovernment will not be used deliberately to frustrate his efforts.”(Road to Serfdom)
  13. 13. Self-governance (democracy &political independence)• Dahl: “To govern oneself, to obey laws that one haschosen for oneself, to be self-determining, is adesirable end. Yet human beings cannot attain thisend by living in isolation. To enjoy satisfactorylives, they must live in association with others. Butto live in association with others necessarilyrequires that they must sometimes obey collectivedecisions that are binding on all members of theassociation. The problem, then, is to discover away by which the members of an association maymake decisions binding on all and still governthemselves. Because democracy maximizes theopportunities for self-determination among themembers of an association, it is the best solution.”(Democracy and Its Critics)
  14. 14. Tolerance• Jefferson “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom”,Martin Luther King, “I have a dream”• Gay Liberation Front: “Gay people are oppressed. […]The long-term goal […] is to rid society of the gender-role system which is at the root of our oppression. Thiscan only be achieved by eliminating the socialpressures on men and women to conform to narrowlydefined gender roles. [...] The starting point of ourliberation must be to rid ourselves of the oppressionwhich lies in the head of every one of us. This meansfreeing our heads from self-oppression and malechauvinism, and no longer organising our livesaccording to the patterns with which we areindoctrinated by straight society. It means that wemust root out the idea that homosexuality is bad, sickor immoral, and develop a gay pride.”
  15. 15. Tolerance• Declaration from the Autism Community that They Are aMinority Group: “People on the autism spectrum have ourown cultural differences, unique habits, such asstemming, and different perspectives than the norm. Wefeel it is essential that this is recognised as these "traits"are the things that some children and adults are forced tostop by some harsh and intensive therapies. We shouldhave the right to be ourselves, without the pressure toconform and change our cultural differences. Weexperience discrimination in various forms, often becauseof our different use of language and communication,habitual differences such as stemming, and lack ofacknowledgment that autistic parents may have autisticchildren, and differences in the children are not due topoor parenting, but the innate differences of our minoritygroup.”
  16. 16. Trade-offs• 7 concepts -> 21 possible trade-offs• In some cases the concepts reinforce eachother, but we can find examples of eachpossible trade-off.
  17. 17. E.g. negative freedom vs. democracy• Spencer (Man Against the State) :• “the liberty which a citizen enjoys is to bemeasured, not by the nature of the governmentalmachinery he lives under, whether representativeor other, but by the relative paucity of therestraints it imposes on him”• It’s irrelevant “whether this machinery is or is notone he shared in making”.• What matters is whether the rules imposed bygovernment “increase such restraints beyondthose which are needful for preventing him fromdirectly or indirectly aggressing on his fellows –needful, that is, for maintaining the liberties of hisfellows against his invasions of them”.
  18. 18. POTENTIAL USES OF THETAXONOMY7 concepts of freedom
  19. 19. Understanding political debates• Common good debate: Individualism vs.communitarianism• The social justice debate: procedures vs.outcomes• The meaning of individualism:libertarians vs. progressives• The left vs. right debate: conservative vs.progressive
  20. 20. Common good debate• Individual freedom:– Negative freedom– Freedom of choice– Psychological autonomy– Welfare• Communitarian concerns:– Self-governance– Freedom under law– Tolerance
  21. 21. Social justice debate• Good procedures: i.e. non-coercive, non-manipulative, democratic and non-discriminatory:– Negative freedom– Autonomy– Self-governance– Freedom under law• Good outcomes:– Welfare– Freedom of choice– Tolerance
  22. 22. The meaning of individualism• Libertarianism:– Negative freedom• Progressives:– Autonomy– Freedom of choice– Welfare
  23. 23. Left vs. Right• Conservatives:– Freedom under law– Freedom of choice– Negative freedom• Progressives:– Democracy– Welfare– Tolerance– Autonomy
  24. 24. SOME EMPIRICSFreedom-talk.com
  25. 25. Democracy Negative Autonomy Tolerance Choice WelfareThe meaning of "freedom"United States Romania
  26. 26. Democracy Negative Autonomy Tolerance Choice WelfareWhich type of freedom best promotes common goodUnited States Romania
  27. 27. democracy negative autonomy tolerance choice welfareMeaning of freedom, United StatesProgressive Conservative Libertarian
  28. 28. democracy negative autonomy tolerance choice welfareWhat best promotes the common good, United StatesProgressive Conservative Libertarian
  29. 29. -0.1-0.06- democracy negative autonomy tolerance choice welfareWhen do progressives, conservatives and libertarians chooseless freedom? (difference between the “common goodprofile” and the “freedom profile”)Progressive Conservative Libertarian
  30. 30. Nolantest
  31. 31. Nolan testDependentvariables:political self-identificationPredictors:Romanian respondents (851) American respondents (691)EconomicfreedomSocialfreedomEconomicfreedomSocialfreedomProgressive-0.055 0.036 -0.074 0.027(0.004) (0.005) (0.006) (0.008)Conservative.024 -0.064 0.028 -0.078(0.004) (0.006) (0.007) (0.009)Libertarian0.038 0.029 0.065 0.045(0.003) (0.003) (0.005) (0.007)
  32. 32. Thank you!vtarko@gmu.edu