The Nature And Value Of Political Liberty

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




A conception of positive political liberty which uses the notion of moral culpability as of the defining conditions is explained and defended. Though liberty is treated as the absence of prevention or constraint, these latter notions are argued to be normative since often it is necessary to rely on a moral assessment to decide whether obstacles to action are to count as denials of political freedom.Traditional negative liberty denying conditions such as restraint and coersion are shown to be both conceptually and morally similar to incapacities caused by the culpable actions of others. In addition, failing to enable by remediating an incapacity at minimal cost is judged to be similarly relevant to political liberty. Obstacles to political action caused intentionally or negligently, by individuals, groups or institutions, as well as those permitted to continue to exist when removal could be accomplished at minimal cost, are all threats to political freedom.A positive conception of political liberty is shown to be consistent with some of the ideals of a "dynamic" individualism because it alone takes seriously the threat to autonomy from manipulation and certain types of socialization. In addition, liberty and the right to liberty are argued to be distinct even though liberty and the conditions of its exercise and worth are not. Finally, there can be better and worst conceptions of political liberty even while liberty is an essentially contested concept.



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