Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Normative Disbelief in Liberty

An ancient reason people think personal liberty (or freedom) is not a good thing is that, by their values, it leads to immorality, impiety, and vice. Holders of the normative disbelief – actually opponents of personal liberty - don’t trust people.

I said it is ancient: Plato and Aristotle opposed personal liberty. Thomas Aquinas, building on Aristotle, advocated an imposed ethics based on Christian principles. Christianity, Islam, (I’m not sure about Judaism), and other religions have, at one time or another, actively opposed personal liberty because, left to themselves, people do things that God (or at least the religious leaders) don’t like.

Given that absolute liberty is impossible (see a previous post), those who oppose letting people have the maximum possible liberty either a) think their own judgment is superior to that of other people or b) value something (virtue, honor, piety, God, the state, social justice, the person’s immortal soul, whatever) more than they value individual living humans.

The former look at the bulk of humanity as children or pets while the latter consider humans as tools or elements of something greater. All arguments boil down to one or the other; I can think of no third alternative.

I find both repugnant.

No comments:

Post a Comment