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Vlad Tarko - The varieties of liberty ideals (

  1. 1. The Varieties of Liberty Ideals Vlad Tarko George Mason University Economics Department, Mercatus Center Institute for Humane Studies Symposium on Scholarship & a Free Society, 2013
  2. 2. Outline • History of the project • Philosophical foundation: 7 concepts of freedom, 21 trade-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 libertarians understand freedom differently? – What kinds of freedom are they most willing to give up?
  3. 3. History of this project • Center for Institutional Analysis and Development (CADI) in Bucharest • Funded by Konrad Adenauer Foundation • What I did: 1. Review of the political philosophy literature on liberty -> 7 concepts taxonomy 2. Operationalizing the taxonomy -> survey 3. Testing it a draft on undergrad students 4. 5. Analyze the data
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  7. 7. 7 concepts of freedom • Freedom from constraints (negative) • Freedom of choice • Psychological autonomy • Freedom as welfare • Freedom under law • Self-governance (democracy & political independence) • Tolerance (positive)
  8. 8. Freedom from constraints • Hobbes: “a freeman is he that, in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do, is not hindered to do what he has a will to” (Leviathan) • Spencer: “Every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man” (Social Statics) • Milton Friedman: “Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men” (Capitalism and Freedom) • Rothbard: “Liberty is the absence of physically coercive interference or invasion of an individual’s person and property” (Ethics of Liberty)
  9. 9. Freedom of choice • Ortega y Gasset: “Imagine two men, one of the present day and one of the 18th Century, possessed of equal fortunes relatively to money – values in their respective periods –, and compare the stock of purchasable things offered to each. The difference is almost fabulous. The range of possibilities opened out before the present-day purchaser has become practically limitless. […] Whereas the number of occupations in primitive life can almost be counted on the fingers of one hand – shepherd, hunter, warrior, seer – the list of possible avocations today is immeasurably long” (Revolt of the Masses)
  10. 10. Psychological autonomy • Marcuse: “Liberty is self-determination, autonomy […] creating the society in which man is no longer enslaved by institutions which vitiate self-determination from the beginning” (Repressive tolerance) • Dewey: “Liberty is that secure release and fulfillment of personal potentialities which take place only in rich and manifold association with others: the power to be an individualized self- making a distinctive contribution and enjoying in its own way the fruits 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 sense of 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 we want in the sense of what we can identify as our wants, without being free; indeed, we can be further entrenching our unfreedom.”
  11. 11. Welfare: freedom from need • Sen: “Development requires the removal of major sources of unfreedom: poverty as well as tyranny, poor economic opportunities as well as systematic social deprivation, neglect of public facilities as well as intolerance or over activity of repressive states.” (Development as freedom) • Barry Schwartz: “increased choice among goods and services may contribute little or nothing to the kind of freedom that counts […] we do ourselves no favor when we equate liberty too directly with choice, as if we necessarily increase freedom by increasing the number of options available. Instead, I believe that we make the most of our freedom by learning to make good choices about the things that matter, while at the same time unburdening ourselves from too much concern about the 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 to do what he lists: […] But a Liberty to dispose, and order, as he lists, his Persons, Actions, Possessions, and his whole Property, within the Allowance of those Laws under which he is; and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary Will of another, but freely follow his own.” (Second Treatise of Government) • Hayek: “the essential point” is that “the discretion left to the executive organs wielding coercive power should be reduced as much as possible […] While every law restricts individual freedom to some extent by altering the means which people may use in the pursuit of their aims, under the Rule of Law the government is prevented from stultifying individual efforts by ad hoc action. Within the known rules of the game the individual is free to pursue his personal ends and desires, certain that the powers of government 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 has chosen for oneself, to be self-determining, is a desirable end. Yet human beings cannot attain this end by living in isolation. To enjoy satisfactory lives, they must live in association with others. But to live in association with others necessarily requires that they must sometimes obey collective decisions that are binding on all members of the association. The problem, then, is to discover a way by which the members of an association may make decisions binding on all and still govern themselves. Because democracy maximizes the opportunities for self-determination among the members 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. This can only be achieved by eliminating the social pressures on men and women to conform to narrowly defined gender roles. [...] The starting point of our liberation must be to rid ourselves of the oppression which lies in the head of every one of us. This means freeing our heads from self-oppression and male chauvinism, and no longer organising our lives according to the patterns with which we are indoctrinated by straight society. It means that we must root out the idea that homosexuality is bad, sick or immoral, and develop a gay pride.”
  15. 15. Tolerance • Declaration from the Autism Community that They Are a Minority Group: “People on the autism spectrum have our own cultural differences, unique habits, such as stemming, and different perspectives than the norm. We feel it is essential that this is recognised as these "traits" are the things that some children and adults are forced to stop by some harsh and intensive therapies. We should have the right to be ourselves, without the pressure to conform and change our cultural differences. We experience discrimination in various forms, often because of our different use of language and communication, habitual differences such as stemming, and lack of acknowledgment that autistic parents may have autistic children, and differences in the children are not due to poor parenting, but the innate differences of our minority group.”
  16. 16. Trade-offs • 7 concepts -> 21 possible trade-offs • In some cases the concepts reinforce each other, but we can find examples of each possible trade-off.
  17. 17. E.g. negative freedom vs. democracy • Spencer (Man Against the State) : • “the liberty which a citizen enjoys is to be measured, not by the nature of the governmental machinery he lives under, whether representative or other, but by the relative paucity of the restraints it imposes on him” • It’s irrelevant “whether this machinery is or is not one he shared in making”. • What matters is whether the rules imposed by government “increase such restraints beyond those which are needful for preventing him from directly or indirectly aggressing on his fellows – needful, that is, for maintaining the liberties of his fellows against his invasions of them”.
  18. 18. POTENTIAL USES OF THE TAXONOMY 7 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
  25. 25. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 Law Democracy Negative Autonomy Tolerance Choice Welfare The meaning of "freedom" United States Romania
  26. 26. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 Law Democracy Negative Autonomy Tolerance Choice Welfare Which type of freedom best promotes common good United States Romania
  27. 27. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 law democracy negative autonomy tolerance choice welfare Meaning of freedom, United States Progressive Conservative Libertarian
  28. 28. 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 law democracy negative autonomy tolerance choice welfare What best promotes the common good, United States Progressive Conservative Libertarian
  29. 29. -0.1 -0.06 -0.02 0.02 0.06 0.1 law democracy negative autonomy tolerance choice welfare When do progressives, conservatives and libertarians choose less freedom? (difference between the “common good profile” and the “freedom profile”) Progressive Conservative Libertarian
  30. 30. Nolan test
  31. 31. Nolan test Dependent variables: political self- identification Predictors: Romanian respondents (851) American respondents (691) Economic freedom Social freedom Economic freedom Social freedom Progressive -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) Libertarian 0.038 0.029 0.065 0.045 (0.003) (0.003) (0.005) (0.007)
  32. 32. Thank you!