The Quality of Freedom

The Quality of Freedom

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At least since the publication of Isaiah Berlin's famous essay "Two Concepts of Liberty" nearly half a century ago, political philosophers have argued vigorously over the relative merits of "positive" and "negative" accounts of freedom. Matthew Kramer writes squarely within the negative-liberty tradition, but he incorporates a number of ideas that are quite often associated with theories of positive liberty. Much of The Quality of Freedom is devoted to
elaborating the necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of particular freedoms and unfreedoms; however, the book's cardinal objective is to establish the measurability of each person's overall freedom and of each society's aggregate freedom. On the one hand, Kramer contends that the existence of any
particular instance of liberty or unfreedom is a matter of fact that can be confirmed or disconfirmed without any reliance on evaluative or normative considerations. On the other hand, he argues that the extent of each person's overall freedom or unfreedom cannot be ascertained entirely in the absence of evaluative assumptions. By combining those two positions and developing them in detail, Kramer pits himself against all positive accounts of liberty and most negative accounts. In the course of
so doing, he aims to demonstrate the rigorous measurability of overall liberty - something that many writers on freedom have casually dismissed as impossible. Although Kramer concentrates principally on constructing a systematic analysis of sociopolitical freedom, he engages critically with the work
of many of the leading contemporary writers on the topic.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 496 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 26mm | 767g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199545731
  • 9780199545735
  • 2,025,542

Table of contents

1. Introduction ; 2. Fine Distinctions ; 3. Instances of Freedom ; 4. Sources of Unfreedom ; 5. Ascertaining the Extent of Everyone's Overall Freedom ; Conclusion
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Review quote

Review from previous edition ...[This book is] one of the best attempts so far to make sense of the concept of negative freedom, not only in terms of precision and consistency but also in terms of philosophical depth and overall comprehensiveness. It is rare to find such an incisive and illuminating discussion sustained so consistently over so many pages... * Philosophical Review * ...In this rich and densely argued book, Matthew Kramer defends an austere, negative account of freedom...even those who profoundly disagree will often be stopped in their tracks by the relentlessness and quality of Kramer's work... * Times Higher Education Supplement * ...Kramer's ambitious work is a worthy addition to the "negative versus positive liberty" debate spawned a half-century ago by Isaiah Berlin's inaugural lecture at Oxford University and published essay, "Two Concepts of Liberty" 1958) ... [T]he arguments in this book are persuasive, and it should be of great interest to those interested in theoretical and philosophical debates over negative and positive liberty... * The Law and Politics Book Review *
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