Definition of Freedom

Definition of Freedom

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B: What exactly is freedom?  What should we have the freedom to do?  Everyone wants freedom.  God has given us freedom Himself, by not restricting us to obey His commandments.  Why should we restrict the freedoms of others, then?  Yet we do it plenty when we ratify new bills.  So what freedoms should we have with respect to human government?

Definition.  A fit individual’s rightful sphere of his freedom consists of his ability to do anything he wants to do, insofar as it does not interfere with another fit individual’s rightful sphere of freedom.

Notice the qualifier “fit.”

A: I couldn’t really help but.

B: Obviously some people are unfit to fully exercise their freedom; e.g., minors, those having a mental handicap, etc.  Criminals may become unfit for exercising their freedom – that is, required to forfeit a portion of their freedom – if they abuse it to take others’ freedom away.  An intoxicated person may be ruled unfit to have the freedom to operate a vehicle.  In the absence of such shortcomings, however – i.e., if they are “fit” – all people should have as much freedom as stated in the definition.  And I’m not going to go into detail, at least not at this time, about how much freedom should be curtailed for those who are not fit for the full exercise of it.

A: Can I drive on the left side of the road if I want to, without being ticketed for it?

B: If it’s your road, sure.  But if someone else has claim to that road, then you’ve got to obey the rules set by the owner of that road.

Details

A: The government owns the road.  But since I’m a member of the government (“government by the people”), I should be able to drive on whichever side I want.

B: That’s not really how it works, unless you’re in an anarchy.  A democratic government, such as the one in which we find ourselves here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., votes (in effect) on the rules for the road, and once the votes have been tallied and the rules have been decided, it doesn’t matter which way you voted initially.  If they voted for “no driving on the left side,” then you no longer have that freedom to drive on the left side.  You can complain about it all you like – “freedom of speech” – but you don’t have the freedom to go against the new law.

A: Can I have any job I want?

B: A job always includes two parties, unless it’s self-employment; otherwise, it’s an agreement between you and another party.  If you claim that job against the wishes of that other party, you have interfered with that other party’s freedom.  The same thing goes for anything – any piece of land or property, etc. – that more than one person can claim.  If there are disputes about what belongs to whom, then a third party is used to settle the dispute, whether in a court of law or otherwise.

Here’s a nice

Example.  Let’s suppose that a certain person strives daily to make himself look nice.  (I told you it was a “nice” example.)  On a certain day when he has made considerable effort to look nice, he asks you if you think he looks nice.  Suppose that you say “no.”  Have any freedoms been taken?  Of course not.  It’s his freedom to attempt to look nice, and your freedom is that you’re entitled to your own opinion about whether you think he looks nice.

Suppose, however, that he’s offended by your “no.”  Have any freedoms been taken yet?  Why should there be, simply by the fact that he’s offended?  But suppose that the government, one in which the people ultimately make the laws (whether by themselves or through elected representatives), gives special recognition of some kind to those who look nice.  Does that mean that you should suddenly no longer have the freedom to have the opinion, let alone express it, that the person doesn’t look nice?  Furthermore, if he thinks that the reason you have that opinion is due to a prejudice he thinks you have against his race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, should you no longer have the freedom to your opinion, nor to vote accordingly?

A: What do I care about the guy’s life?  I shouldn’t be able to affect it merely by my opinion.  He should get his governmental recognition, regardless of what my opinion is.

B: In a democracy, when a person votes, he potentially affects the lives of all other people under the jurisdiction of that democracy’s government.  If you say that somebody’s vote cannot deny another of a certain governmental recognition, you’re saying that person’s vote doesn’t count, and therefore denying him the freedom the democracy guarantees him to participate in government.  Only one person has freedom to your opinion, and that is you yourself.  If another person, entity, or the government outlaws it, your freedom has been taken away.  It’s usually considered a breach of freedom of speech, but since your opinion is actually your belief, one could also consider it a breach of freedom of religion.

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