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Prior Knowledge

Friday, March 10, 2006

freedom as non-domination

i agree that non-domination is a useful third conception of freedom that is distinct from negative and positive. and i agree that it is a worthwhile ideal. some comments:

first, Berlin never intended his negative-positive distinction to be exhaustive of notions of freedom so he too could accept non-domination.

the claim that non-domination is necessary for freedom is plausible. but Pettit also claims that it is sufficient. i disagree. consider a government that restricts people's options to a great degree, but the decisions to do so are not the result of arbitrary will. maybe there are many checks and balances, procedures to go through, democratic voting, etc. but it still restricts freedom in the negative sense. are people living under such a government really free? surely not.

i posed this question to someone the other say and they said that subsequent to the book, pettit now accepts this point and that non-domination is not an alternative but a complement to negative freedom. he says so in some article, not sure of the reference.

finally, are non-dom and negative freedom so different? it seems possible to derive a concern for non-dom from a concern for negative freedom. that is, in a situation of domination its always possible that the dominator will restrict negative freedom. maybe out concerns in the non-interfering dominator case are not that there is an intrinsic unfreedom there but an instrumental worry: non-interfering dominators usually start to interfere.