domingo, dezembro 23, 2012

Liberty and liberties

Negative and Positive Liberty, Part 2:
Given the welter of confusion and disagreement over the meaning of “freedom” and “liberty,” libertarians should take pains to be clear about what they mean when they use those terms. They should distinguish what they mean from other meanings, and they should be extremely cautious about elevating other meanings to the same status as negative freedom within their ideology.

Consider, for example, Martin Luther’s celebrated discussion of “Christian liberty.” Based on Luther’s theory of divine grace, which could not be earned by good works, this denoted an inner freedom from the spiritual demands of Catholicism. So what should libertarians say about Luther’s notion of Christian liberty? Should we say, as Brennan does about positive liberty, that Christian liberty is a “form” of liberty and should therefore be incorporated into libertarian ideology? Should we say, as Brennan does about positive liberty, that to embrace Christian liberty as an authentic form of liberty does not necessarily mean that a government should promote Christian liberty directly?

I think not. We could pose the same questions about many different conceptions of liberty found in the history of philosophy and theology, but what would be the point of answering such questions in a roundabout Brennanesque manner? What purpose would be served by embracing dozens upon dozens of different conceptions of liberty, as if each conception is on a par with negative liberty in libertarian theory? Rather, we should simply point out that such alternate conceptions are not relevant to libertarian theory in any fundamental sense, period.

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