Mill’s Harm (aka Liberty) Principle ‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.’
What about self-regarding actions?
‘Harm’ ‘Harm’ means harm to our interests. The interests that count here are those that ought to be considered to be rights, those interests ‘which society ought to defend me in the possession of’. Which interests should be rights is decided by utility, ‘but it must be utility in the largest sense, grounded on the permanent interests of a man as a progressive being. These permanent, progressive interests include freedom, the pursuit of truth, and the development of individual character.
‘Pursuing our own good in our own way’
Negative freedom There are many causes for someone’s inability to do something: –Genetics –Episodic –Dispositional –Decision-based –Resource-based –Legality
Hayek Someone is free if there is no ‘control of the environment or circumstances of a person by another such that in order to avoid greater evil he is forced to act not according to a coherent plan of his own but to serve the ends of others.’
Coercion Freedom is not being coerced. Coercion involves someone else intentionally constraining my actions. Everyone who is not coerced is equally free.
Berlin We need freedom to develop our faculties to conceive and pursue our own ends. Freedom is absence of coercion, but the extent of our freedom depends on which opportunities are available to us, especially their importance.
Positive freedom Liberty must enable activity in order to be worthwhile; the final end is a better life.
Individual positive freedom If someone is unable to take advantage of opportunity, their freedom is worthless; therefore, the value of freedom itself requires that we help them. Taylor: people need developed faculties and sufficient resources Berlin: but we can’t dictate what counts as ‘rational’, or this is paternalism
Rousseau: Collective positive freedom Freedom is living under rules you have created yourself. So we need to decide social rules together. Breaking those rules is then, in fact, ‘unfree’.
Being free Berlin: Rousseau understands freedom only collectively - but this only works if people identify with society as strongly as Rousseau wants. We need freedom from collective decisions too. But how much of ‘pursuing our own good in our own way’ actually depends on others?