The Lexicon of Man: “Free”, “Freedom”, & “Free Society”
April 23, 2014 by Paul McKeever
In the context of the political philosophy of Man, the terms “free”, “freedom”, and “free society” are properly defined as follows:
“Free”: the state of having sole discretion over the use and disposition of your own life, liberty, and property.
“Freedom”: the quality of having sole discretion over the use and disposition of your own life, liberty, and property.
“Free Society”: a number of individuals, living among one another, in which each individual has sole discretion over the use and disposition of his or her own life, liberty, and property.
Explanation: Human nature is such that you must use and dispose of your own life, liberty, and property consistently with the goal of obtaining the material and spiritual values upon which your own survival and happiness depend. So long as you have sole discretion with respect to how your own life, liberty, and property are used and disposed of, your can live in accordance with human nature, which is your nature.
When amongst other individuals (in other words, in a political context), you can live in accordance with human nature only so long as you maintain sole discretion over the use and disposition of your own life, liberty and property. This implies that you are free while, and only while, no other person takes your life, liberty, or property without your consent.
It is sometimes debated whether “freedom” means “freedom to” or “freedom from”. Such debates typically drop the political context. They overlook the fact that, in a political context, freedom is not a reference to a metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, or legal concept. In a political context, “freedom” is a reference only to a political concept.
However, political freedom does imply a metaphysical concept called freedom: “freedom from” the taking of your life, liberty, or property by others, without your consent. Political freedom also implies a legal concept called freedom: “freedom to” use force or the threat of physical force to defend yourself against any other person who is attempting to take your life, liberty, or property without your consent, without suffering a legal penalty such as a fine or imprisonment. In those metaphysical and legal senses, political freedom implies both “freedom from” and “freedom to”, respectively.