The concept of freedom is often discussed and debated by philosophers, political scientists, or lawyers. It is viewed as one of unalienable rights of a person; yet, it can be restricted due to some reasons or purposes. This paper is aimed at showing that freedom is impossible without some responsibility for ones actions and some restrictions are inevitable.
We will write a custom Term Paper on The Freedom Concept specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Without these restrictions, the very existence of society can be threatened. On the whole, this issue can be important for individuals, communities, and states. The way in which people understand the notion of freedom affects criminal laws, international relations, and the moral principles of an individual. This is why various aspects of freedom are still worth examining, even though many thinkers have discussed them.
First of all, one can ask whether freedom is always a good thing. At first glance, this question may seem outrageous or ludicrous because people usually regard individual liberty as something indispensible for a human being. However, this view can be disputed because under some circumstances the freedom of an individual has to be limited.
For instance, criminals are deprived of their right to freedom, because they can pose a threat to other people. Additionally, one can mention traffic rules that are familiar to every person. They are taken for granted even though they do limit personal freedom. Even the most severe critics of the state cannot deny the necessity of such restrictions. Therefore, freedom may not be a good thing if a person completely disregards the interests of other people.
Overall, this issue has been discussed by many prominent philosophers. In his classical work Leviathan Thomas Hobbes points out that people who are not bound by any rules, will inevitably enter into conflict in which only the strongest can prevail (Hobbes, 1976, p. 86). He believes that the life of such people will be “poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Hobbes, 1976, p. 86).
Thus, it is possible to say that absolute freedom is hardly possible, because it can be interpreted as ability to anything that a person wants to. There were people who possessed almost absolute freedom, for example, one can mention the dictators of the twentieth century like Hitler or Stalin, but it was based on the use of coercion and violence.
This is why people seek not to be free, especially they want to be protected by the law or the state. The very idea of social contract is based on the premise that people forfeit some of their rights in order to create a peaceful community. This necessity to limit ones freedom was discussed in the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (2008) who believed that state should act as an arbiter and enforcer of the social contract (p. 39). The existence of such a contract implies that people consent to follow some rules that limit their freedom.
The philosophical and ethical aspects of freedom are important for international relations. Very often political leaders talk about the necessity to free other societies. In many cases, such actions may involve military intervention. The question arises whether this intrusion into the life of a sovereign state can be justified on rational or moral grounds.
The thing is that there are societies in which the individual freedom of a person is practically non-existent, for instance, one can mention North Korea (Forsythe, 2009, p. 333). In such cases, political pressure seems to be ethically acceptable. However, one cannot say the same thing about military intervention that usually threatens the lives of people have nothing to do with the policies of the state. As a rule, they are the victims of this state.
Certainly, one can say that the economic, military pressure on a certain sovereign state is not permissible, because the laws of the country have been adopted by the majority of people living in this community. However, such an argument can be disputed, because in many totalitarian societies citizens are afraid of expressing their discontent. Thus, the concept of freedom should not be excluded from international relations.
Additionally, it is quite reasonable to ask whether people living in the United States can be called free. This issue is also worth discussing since America is often regarded as the most democratic and liberal country. Overall, it is impossible to speak about absolute or unrestricted freedom, but as it has been mentioned before, this unrestricted freedom cannot exist in the civic society.
Yet, if we are speaking about economic or political liberties, the United States can certainly be regarded a free country. Again, this idea can be better illustrated by comparing America to other countries such North Korea or Afghanistan in which the political rights of people are not recognized or upheld by the state.
Despite the fact that the concept of freedom has been discussed in many philosophical, legal or political works, it continues to attract attention of many people. This notion shapes almost every form of relation within the societies and at an international level. This paper suggests that freedom inevitably involves some degree of restriction; otherwise it can hardly exist. This is the main point that should be taken into consideration.
Forsythe, D. (2009). Encyclopedia of Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Hobbes, T. (1976). Leviathan. New York: Forgotten Books.
Rousseau, J. (2008). The Social Contract. London: Cosimo.