Counterfactual success and negative freedom

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Recent theories of negative freedom see it as a value-neutral concept; the definition of freedom should not be in terms of specific moral values. Specifically, preferences or desires do not enter into the definition of freedom. If preferences should so enter then Berlin's problem that a person may enhance their freedom by changing their preferences emerges. This paper demonstrates that such a preference-free conception brings its own counterintuitive problems. It concludes that these problems might be avoided if the description of the constraints which specify an agent's lack of freedom include the intentions of those who constrain the agents. Copyright © Cambridge University Press.




Dowding, K., & Van Hees, M. (2007). Counterfactual success and negative freedom. Economics and Philosophy, 23(2), 141–162.

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