digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















For other uses, see Liberty (disambiguation).

Liberty is the power to do as one likes.[1] In philosophy, the idea of liberty involves free will as contrasted with determinism.[2]In politics, liberty is freedom from government coercion.[3] In theology, liberty is freedom from the bondage of sin.[4]


Philosophers from earliest times have considered the question of liberty. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 AD - 180 AD) wrote of "a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed."[5] According to Thomas Hobbes (1578-1679), "a free man is he that... is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do."

John Locke (1632-1704) rejected that definition of liberty. While not specifically mentioning Hobbes, he attacks Sir Robert Filmer who had the same definition. According to Locke:

“In the state of nature, liberty consists of being free from any superior power on Earth. People are not under the will or lawmaking authority of others but have only the law of nature for their rule. In political society, liberty consists of being under no other lawmaking power except that established by consent in the commonwealth. People are free from the dominion of any will or legal restraint apart from that enacted by their own constituted lawmaking power according to the trust put in it. Thus, freedom is not as Sir Robert Filmer defines it: ‘A liberty for everyone to do what he likes, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied by any laws.’ Freedom is constrained by laws in both the state of nature and political society. Freedom of nature is to be under no other restraint but the law of nature. Freedom of people under government is to be under no restraint apart from standing rules to live by that are common to everyone in the society and made by the lawmaking power established in it. Persons have a right or liberty to (1) follow their own will in all things that the law has not prohibited and (2) not be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, and arbitrary wills of others.” [6]

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), in his work, On Liberty, was the first to recognize the difference between liberty as the freedom to act and liberty as the absence of coercion.[7] In his book, Two Concepts of Liberty, Isaiah Berlin formally framed the differences between these two perspectives as the distinction between two opposite concepts of liberty: positive liberty and negative liberty. The latter designates a negative condition in which an individual is protected from tyranny and the arbitrary exercise of authority, while the former refers to having the means or opportunity, rather than the lack of restraint, to do things.

Mill offered insight into the notions of soft tyranny and mutual liberty with his harm principle.[8] It can be seen as important to understand these concepts when discussing liberty since they all represent little pieces of the greater puzzle known as freedom. In a philosophical sense, it can be said that morality must supersede tyranny in any legitimate form of government. Otherwise, people are left with a societal system rooted in backwardness, disorder, and regression.

The Statue of Liberty, donated to the US by France, an artistic personification of liberty.



ama-gi, a Sumerian cuneiform expressing the emancipation of slaves and release from peonage through the cancellation of debts.

Urukagina, the king of Lagash, established the first known legal code to protect citizens from the rich and powerful. Known as a great reformer, Urukagina established laws that forbade compelling the sale of property and required the charges against the accused to be stated before any man accused of a crime could be punished. This is the first known example of any form of due process in the history of humanity. However, his laws were otherwise typically brutal for Mesopotamia, including the stoning of women for having multiple husbands.

The modern concept of political liberty has its origins in the Greek concepts of freedom and slavery.[9] To be free, to the Greeks, was to not have a master, to be independent from a master (to live like one likes).[10] That was the original Greek concept of freedom. It is closely linked with the concept of democracy, as Aristotle put it:

"This, then, is one note of liberty which all democrats affirm to be the principle of their state. Another is that a man should live as he likes. This, they say, is the privilege of a freeman, since, on the other hand, not to live as a man likes is the mark of a slave. This is the second characteristic of democracy, whence has arisen the claim of men to be ruled by none, if possible, or, if this is impossible, to rule and be ruled in turns; and so it contributes to the freedom based upon equality."[11]

This applied only to free men. In Athens, for instance, women could not vote or hold office and were legally and socially dependent on a male relative.[12]

The populations of the Persian Empire enjoyed some degree of freedom. Citizens of all religions and ethnic groups were given the same rights and had the same freedom of religion, women had the same rights as men, and slavery was abolished(550 BC). All the palaces of the kings of Persia were built by paid workers in an era when slaves typically did such work.[13]

In the Buddhist Maurya Empire of ancient India, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups had some rights to freedom, tolerance, and equality. The need for tolerance on an egalitarian basis can be found in the Edicts of Ashoka the Great, which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. The slaughter or capture of prisoners of war was also condemned by Ashoka.[14] Slavery was also non-existent in the Maurya Empire.[15] However, according to Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, "Ashoka's orders seem to have been resisted right from the beginning."[16]

Roman law also embraced certain limited forms of liberty, even under the rule of the Roman Emperors. However, these liberties were accorded only to Roman citizens. Still, the Roman citizen enjoyed a combination of positive liberty (the right to a trial, a right of appeal, law and contract enforcement) and negative liberty (unhindered right to contract and the right to not be tortured). Many of the liberties enjoyed under Roman law endured through the Middle Ages, but were enjoyed solely by the nobility, never by the common man. The idea of unalienable and universal liberties had to wait until the Age of Enlightenment.

Social contract[edit]

Eugène DelacroixLa liberté guidant le peuple (1830)
In French Liberty. British Slavery (1792), James Gillray caricatured French "liberty" as the opportunity to starve and British "slavery" as bloated complaints about taxation.

The social contract theory, invented by Hobbes, John Locke and Rousseau, were among the first to provide a political classification of rights, in particular through the notion of sovereignty and of natural rights. The thinkers of the Enlightenment reasoned the assertion that law governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law gave the king his power, rather than the king's power giving force to law. The divine right of kings was thus opposed to the sovereign's unchecked auctoritas. This conception of law would find its culmination in Montesquieu's thought. The conception of law as a relationship between individuals, rather than families, came to the fore, and with it the increasing focus on individual liberty as a fundamental reality, given by "Nature and Nature's God," which, in the ideal state, would be as expansive as possible.

The Enlightenment created then, among other ideas, liberty: that is, of a free individual being most free within the context of a state that provides stability of the laws. Within the context of social liberty, in On Liberty, John Stuart Mill sought to define the "...nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual,” and as such, he describes an inherent and continuous antagonism between liberty and authority and thus, the prevailing question becomes "how to make the fitting adjustment between individual independence and social control".[17]

Modern perspectives[edit]

The modern conceptions of democracy, whether representative democracies or other types of democracies, are all found on the Rousseauist idea of popular sovereignty.[original research?]

Liberalism is a political current embracing several historical and present-day ideologies that claim defense in relation to external authority and coercion. Within this context, the government has a responsibility to ensure individual liberty while at the same time improving the situation of those with the least advantage. In this sense, we can understand economic liberalism as the right of the individual to contract, trade and operate in a market free of constraint and social liberalism as the belief that liberalism should include social justice. Both are core political issues, and are highly contentious.[18]

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person."

United States[edit]

In the United States Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut, Justice William O. Douglas argued that liberties relating to personal relationships, such as marriage, have a unique primacy of place in the hierarchy of freedoms.[19] Jacob M. Appel has summarized this principle:

I am grateful that I have rights in the proverbial public square – but, as a practical matter, my most cherished rights are those that I possess in my bedroom and hospital room and death chamber. Most people are far more concerned that they can control their own bodies than they are about petitioning Congress.[20]

A school of thought popular among U.S. libertarians holds that there is no tenable distinction between the two sorts of liberty – that they are, indeed, one and the same, to be protected (or opposed) together. In the context of U.S. constitutional law, for example, they point out that the constitution twice lists "life, liberty, and property" without making any distinctions within that troika.

Anarcho-Individualists, such as Max Stirner, demanded the utmost respect for the liberty of the individual. Some in the U.S. see protecting the ideal of liberty as a conservative policy, because this would conform to the spirit of individual liberty that they consider is at the heart of the American constitution. Some think liberty is almost synonymous with democracy, at least in one sense of that word, while others see conflicts or even opposition between the two concepts, with democracy being nothing more than the tyranny of the majority.[citation needed]

Republican liberty[edit]

According to republican theorists of freedom, like the historian Quentin Skinner or the philosopher Philip Pettit, one's liberty should not be viewed as the absence of interference in one's actions, but as non-dependence. According to this view, that originates in the Roman Digest, to be a liber homo, a free man, means being in a state of non-dependence from another's arbitrary will. The second step of the argument of these neo-Roman writers, like Machiavelli, was that you have to be a member of a free self-governing civil association, a republic, if you are to enjoy individual liberty.

The predominance of this view of liberty among parliamentarians during the English Civil War resulted to the creation of the liberal concept of freedom as non-interference in Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan.

Historical writings on liberty[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The condition of being able to act or function without hindrance or restraint; faculty or power to do as one likes." Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/107898?rskey=Fm0VI1&result=1#eid
  2. ^ "The fact of not being controlled by or subject to fate; freedom of will." Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/107898?rskey=Fm0VI1&result=1#eid
  3. ^ "Each of those social and political freedoms which are considered to be the entitlement of all members of a community; a civil liberty." Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/107898?rskey=Fm0VI1&result=1#eid
  4. ^ "Freedom from the bondage or dominating influence of sin, spiritual servitude, worldly ties." Oxford English Dictionary. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/107898?rskey=Fm0VI1&result=1#eid
  5. ^ Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations", Book I, Wordsworth Classics of World Literature, ISBN 1853264865
  6. ^ Two Treatises on Government: A Translation into Modern English, ISR/Google Books, 2009, p. 76
  7. ^ Westbrooks, Logan Hart (2008) "Personal Freedom" page 134 In Owens, William (compiler) (2008) Freedom: Keys to Freedom from Twenty-one National Leaders Main Street Publications, Memphis, Tennessee, pages 133–138, ISBN 978-0-9801152-0-8
  8. ^ John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and Utilitarianism, (New York: Bantam Books, 1993), 12–16.
  9. ^ Rodriguez, Junius P. (2007) The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery: A-K ; Vol. II, L-Z,
  10. ^ Mogens Herman Hansen, 2010, Democratic Freedom and the Concept of Freedom in Plato and Aristotle
  11. ^ Aristotle, Politics 6.2
  12. ^ Mikalson, Jon (2009). Ancient Greek Religion (2nd ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. p. 129. ISBN 978-1405181778. 
  13. ^ Arthur Henry Robertson, John Graham Merrills (1996). Human Rights in the World: An Introduction to the Study of the International Protection of Human Rights. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-4923-7.
  14. ^ Amartya Sen (1997). Human Rights and Asian Values. ISBN 0-87641-151-0.
  15. ^ Arrian, Indica:

    "This also is remarkable in India, that all Indians are free, and no Indian at all is a slave. In this the Indians agree with the Lacedaemonians. Yet the Lacedaemonians have Helots for slaves, who perform the duties of slaves; but the Indians have no slaves at all, much less is any Indian a slave."

  16. ^ Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermund (2004). "A history of India". Routledge. p.66. ISBN 0-415-32920-5
  17. ^ Mill, J.S. (1869)., "Chapter I: Introductory", On Liberty. {http://www.bartleby.com/130/1.html}
  18. ^ Rawls, J. (1971). A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press., p. 13
  19. ^ GRISWOLD v. CONNECTICUT U.S. Supreme Court 381 U.S. 479 (1965) Decided June 7, 1965
  20. ^ A Culture of Liberty

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1000000 videos foundNext > 

The Philosophy of Liberty

When you hear Ron Paul say that he stands for the Philosophy of Liberty, this is what he means. The philosophy of liberty is based on self-ownership. This si...

Why Does 1% of History Have 99% of the Wealth? | Learn Liberty

Throughout the history of the world, the average person on earth has been extremely poor: subsisting on the modern equivalent of $3 per day. This was true un...

New York City's Statue of Liberty - 2 Minute Tour

http://motel.com The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable icons of the United States and in New York City. The Statue of Liberty was, for decade...

Speech - Give Me Liberty - Patrick Henry

The famous "Give Me Liberty of Give Me Death" speech as recorded by Librovox. A Suzanne Williams Photography production.

Mark Levin "The Liberty Amendements" - (COMPLETE) Sean Hannity Special - Fox News - 8-16-13

"The Great One" Mark Levin (Author & Radio Talk Show Host) joins Sean Hannity to discuss his new book 'The Liberty Amendments' for a compelling hour of this ...

Dân chơi hà thành bốc đầu Liberty Mừng khánh thành đại lộ Thăng Long 2010

2 em Liberty bốc đầu thật VCL,nhưng kết nhất em Dream chiến!!

Ayn Rand - Liberty vs Socialism

Mike Wallace interviews Ayn Rand regarding socialism and individual liberty. http://www.LibertyPen.com.

We Must Transcend The New World Order With Ideas Of Liberty

Alex Jones breaks down the current geopolitical climate. http://www.infowars.com/britain-raises-terror-threat-level-ahead-of-introducing-new-draconian-law/ Follow Alex on TWITTER - https://twitte...

Gruff Rhys - Liberty (Is Where We'll Be)

Liberty (Is Where We'll Be) is the 2nd single from American Interior, the new album, film, book and app project by Gruff Rhys. The project is inspired by Joh...

Liberty and Economics

What kind of man was Ludwig von Mises? As this unique film shows, Mises (1881-1973) was a man who never stopped fighting for freedom: not when the Nazis burn...

1000000 videos foundNext > 

2036820 news items

News & Observer

News & Observer
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 14:45:00 -0700

UNC chancellor Carol Folt gives a thumbs up to students in the Tar Pit prior to the Tar Heels' game against Liberty at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com Buy Photo ...
CBS Local
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:40:34 -0700

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At least two young men were shot and wounded Friday evening while playing on a basketball court in East Liberty. It happened around 8:20 p.m. in the 5600-block of Broad Street at North St. Clair Street. Lynette Wilson, who lives in ...
Jackson Clarion Ledger
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:30:00 -0700

LIBERTY – Among the many side effects of World War II was shutting down high school football programs as boys left to join the military, some even lying about their age to get in. When the war ended in 1946, football rebounded with a vengeance ...

News & Observer

News & Observer
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:50:02 -0700

Andrew Carter: Liberty has a couple wins against FBS teams (Eastern Michigan and Ball State) but it has never beaten a Power 5 conference opponent, though it lost by only a field goal against Wake Forest in 2012. What gives Liberty hope that it can ...
The Express-Times - lehighvalleylive.com
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:02:28 -0700

Simmons, a Division I recruit, returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns and added a 72-yard scoring pass for good measure in the fourth quarter to seal the Golden Hawks' 56-27 victory over Liberty in the season opener for both teams at Bethlehem ...
Tampa Bay Business Journal
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:48:45 -0700

Liberty owns the Tampa office building that houses Creative Recycling Systems' corporate headquarters, and that location is not on the list of closure. Its position as the headquarters — and a multi-state relationship with Liberty — make that spot a ...
Lynchburg News and Advance
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:00:06 -0700

Lew Weider, the director with Liberty's Center for Christian/Community Service, said in Liberty's earliest years, the service requirement was limited to just church and ministry service, but he helped bring about changes to broaden the scope to ...
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:07:30 -0700

MISSION VIEJO – Under the tutelage of Coach Bob Johnson, Mission Viejo has been one of the strongest football programs in Orange County. Even though the third-ranked Diablos returned just six starters this season, it appeared as there were going to be ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Liberty

You can talk about Liberty with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!