ADVANTAGES

Those in the negative camp try to cut off this line of reasoning atthe first step, by denying that there is any necessary relationbetween one's freedom and one's desires. Since one is free to theextent that one is externally unprevented from doing things, they say,one can be free to do what one does not desire to do. If being freemeant being unprevented from realizing one's desires, then one could,again paradoxically, reduce one's unfreedom by coming to desire fewerof the things one is unfree to do. One could become free simply bycontenting oneself with one's situation. A perfectly contented slaveis perfectly free to realize all of her desires. Nevertheless, we tendto think of slavery as the opposite of freedom. More generally,freedom is not to be confused with happiness, for in logical termsthere is nothing to stop a free person from being unhappy or an unfreeperson from being happy. The happy person might feel free,but whether they are free is another matter (Day, 1970).Negative theorists of freedom therefore tend to say not that havingfreedom means being unprevented from doing as one desires, but that itmeans being unprevented from doing whatever one might desire to do(Steiner 1994. Cf. Van Parijs 1995; Sugden 2006).

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