The Instigator
Harboggles
Pro (for)
Losing
12 Points
The Contender
bigbass3000
Con (against)
Winning
30 Points

Is the idea of personal liberty good?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/20/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,666 times Debate No: 3314
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (14)

 

Harboggles

Pro

I love it.

But just to define it, "The condition of being free from restriction or control." (as long as you do not infringe upon the rights of others)

Someone think about it and tell me why no one should love it. There are so many things it entails, so I want to wait until someone give me specific things to challenge.
bigbass3000

Con

"But just to define it, "The condition of being free from restriction or control." (as long as you do not infringe upon the rights of others) ", I will not contend this definition yet, but I can challenge this in the sense of negative and positive liberty.

Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes. While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities.

As Berlin showed, negative and positive liberty are not merely two distinct kinds of liberty; they can be seen as rival, incompatible interpretations of a single political ideal. Since few people claim to be against liberty, the way this term is interpreted and defined can have important political implications. Political liberalism tends to presuppose a negative definition of liberty: liberals generally claim that if one favors individual liberty one should place strong limitations on the activities of the state. Critics of liberalism often contest this implication by contesting the negative definition of liberty: they argue that the pursuit of liberty understood as self-realization or as self-determination (whether of the individual or of the collectivity) can require state intervention of a kind not normally allowed by liberals.

Imagine you are driving a car through town, and you come to a fork in the road. You turn left, but no one was forcing you to go one way or the other. Next you come to a crossroads. You turn right, but no one was preventing you from going left or straight on. There is no traffic to speak of and there are no diversions or police roadblocks. So you seem, as a driver, to be completely free. But this picture of your situation might change quite dramatically if we consider that the reason you went left and then right is that you're addicted to cigarettes and you're desperate to get to the tobacconists before it closes. Rather than driving, you feel you are being driven, as your urge to smoke leads you uncontrollably to turn the wheel first to the left and then to the right. Moreover, you're perfectly aware that your turning right at the crossroads means you'll probably miss a train that was to take you to an appointment you care about very much. You long to be free of this irrational desire that is not only threatening your longevity but is also stopping you right now from doing what you think you ought to be doing.

This story gives us two contrasting ways of thinking of liberty. On the one hand, one can think of liberty as the absence of obstacles external to the agent. You are free if no one is stopping you from doing whatever you might want to do. In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be free. On the other hand, one can think of liberty as the presence of control on the part of the agent. To be free, you must be self-determined, which is to say that you must be able to control your own destiny in your own interests. In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be unfree: you are not in control of your own destiny, as you are failing to control a passion that you yourself would rather be rid of and which is preventing you from realizing what you recognize to be your true interests. One might say that while on the first view liberty is simply about how many doors are open to the agent, on the second view it is more about going through the right doors for the right reasons.

In a famous essay first published in 1958, Isaiah Berlin called these two concepts of liberty negative and positive respectively (Berlin 1969).[1] The reason for using these labels is that in the first case liberty seems to be a mere absence of something (i.e. of obstacles, barriers, constraints or interference from others), whereas in the second case it seems to require the presence of something (i.e. of control, self-mastery, self-determination or self-realization). In Berlin's words, we use the negative concept of liberty in attempting to answer the question "What is the area within which the subject — a person or group of persons — is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?", whereas we use the positive concept in attempting to answer the question "What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that?" (1969, pp. 121-22).

It is useful to think of the difference between the two concepts in terms of the difference between factors that are external and factors that are internal to the agent. While theorists of negative freedom are primarily interested in the degree to which individuals or groups suffer interference from external bodies, theorists of positive freedom are more attentive to the internal factors affecting the degree to which individuals or groups act autonomously. Given this difference, one might be tempted to think that a political philosopher should concentrate exclusively on negative freedom, a concern with positive freedom being more relevant to psychology or individual morality than to political and social institutions. This, however, would be premature, for among the most hotly debated issues in political philosophy are the following: Is the positive concept of freedom a political concept? Can individuals or groups achieve positive freedom through political action? Is it possible for the state to promote the positive freedom of citizens on their behalf? And if so, is it desirable for the state to do so? The classic texts in the history of western political thought are divided over how these questions should be answered: theorists in the classical liberal tradition, like Constant, Humboldt, Spencer and Mill, are typically classed as answering ‘no' and therefore as defending a negative concept of political freedom; theorists that are critical of this tradition, like Rousseau, Hegel, Marx and T.H. Green, are typically classed as answering ‘yes' and as defending a positive concept of political freedom.

In its political form, positive freedom has often been thought of as necessarily achieved through a collectivity. Perhaps the clearest case is that of Rousseau's theory of freedom, according to which individual freedom is achieved through participation in the process whereby one's community exercises collective control over its own affairs in accordance with the ‘general will'. Put in the simplest terms, one might say that a democratic society is a free society because it is a self-determined society, and that a member of that society is free to the extent that he or she participates in its democratic process. But there are also individualist applications of the concept of positive freedom. For example, it is sometimes said that a government should aim actively to create the conditions necessary for individuals to be self-sufficient or to achieve self-realization. The negative concept of freedom, on the other hand, is most commonly assumed in liberal defences of the constitutional liberties typical of liberal-democratic societies, such as freedom of movement, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, and in arguments against paternalist or moralist state intervention. It is also often invoked in defences of the right to private property, although some have contested the claim that private property necessarily enhances negative liberty (Cohen, 1991, 1995).

So, My friend, since you did not define, which liberty, you are talking about, this debate will be limited to positive or negative liberty, you decide, I warn you, choose wisely.
Debate Round No. 1
Harboggles

Pro

My only premise is that any person of any state, should have the potential to do whatever they like, whenever they would like, whereever they would like.

Whether it's animal sacrifice, masturbation, drugs, driving a car, smoking a cigar, or anything else...

Any person should be allowed to do these things, unless they infringe upon the rights of someone else.

Example:

When drugs are okay:I use them in my house, I do not leave my house while under the influence. I keep them private or among my friends. I do not force anyone to use them.

When they aren't:DUI, forcing them on others. That is infringing on others rights.

Murder:Murder is only okay when in self defense (but then it's really not murder) because that person who wants to murder you, is infringing upon your rights.

I'm just saying that a person should have as little involvement from government as often as possible...
bigbass3000

Con

"Any person should be allowed to do these things, unless they infringe upon the rights of someone else.", This can never be achieved, because anything you do will infringe on people's liberty. Democracy and liberty are the closest cousins. Democracy is bad and this is how libery personal liberty is bad.
"Some argue that the basic principles of democracy are founded in the idea that each individual has a right to liberty. Democracy, it is said, extends the idea that each ought to be master of his or her life to the domain of collective decision making. First, each person's life is deeply affected by the larger social, legal and cultural environment in which he or she lives. Second, only when each person has an equal voice and vote in the process of collective decision-making will each have control over this larger environment. Thinkers such as Carol Gould (1988, pp.45-85) conclude that only when some kind of democracy is implemented, will individuals have a chance at self-government. Since individuals have a right of self-government, they have a right to democratic participation. This right is established at least partly independently of the worth of the outcomes of democratic decision making. The idea is that the right of self-government gives one a right, within limits, to do wrong. Just as an individual has a right to make some bad decisions for himself or herself, so a group of individuals have a right to make bad or unjust decisions for themselves regarding those activities they share."

Plato (Republic, Book VI) argues that democracy is inferior to various forms of monarchy, aristocracy and even oligarchy on the grounds that democracy tends to undermine the expertise necessary to properly governed societies. In a democracy, he argues, those who are expert at winning elections and nothing else will eventually dominate democratic politics. Democracy tends to emphasize this expertise at the expense of the expertise that is necessary to properly governed societies. The reason for this is that most people do not have the kinds of talents that enable them to think well about the difficult issues that politics involves. But in order to win office or get a piece of legislation passed, politicians must appeal to these people's sense of what is right or not right. Hence, the state will be guided by very poorly worked out ideas that experts in manipulation and mass appeal use to help themselves win office.

Hobbes (1651, chap. XIX) argues that democracy is inferior to monarchy because democracy fosters destabilizing dissension among subjects. But his skepticism is not based in a conception that most people are not intellectually fit for politics. On his view, individual citizens and even politicians are apt not to have a sense of responsibility for the quality of legislation because no one makes a significant difference to the outcomes of decision making. As a consequence, citizens' concerns are not focused on politics and politicians succeed only by making loud and manipulative appeals to citizens in order to gain more power, but all lack incentives to consider views that are genuinely for the common good. Hence the sense of lack of responsibility for outcomes undermines politicians' concern for the common good and inclines them to make sectarian and divisive appeals to citizens. For Hobbes, then, democracy has deleterious effects on subjects and politicians and consequently on the quality of the outcomes of collective decision making.

Many public choice theorists in contemporary economic thought expand on these Hobbesian criticisms. They argue that citizens are not informed about politics and that they are often apathetic, which makes room for special interests to control the behavior of politicians and use the state for their own limited purposes all the while spreading the costs to everyone else. Some of them argue for giving over near complete control over society to the market, on the grounds that more extensive democracy tends to produce serious economic inefficiencies. More modest versions of these arguments have been used to justify modification of democratic institutions.

Liberty, personal liberty leads to democracy and democracy infringes on individuals rights, because of this one example, your theory of as long as it does not infringe on a person's rights will never happen. If you are debating theory, I am sorry, because it should not be debated. Debate in it's fundamental form is to debate realism, a tangible subject, not just your own idea, because then, you would always win and you are just doing this to go hey, look I'm right. Yea we know, vote for the neg, because he has not picked which liberty to defend. Liberty in all it's forms contradicts itself, that is why I asked him to pick one and he did not, so vote for the neg again.
Debate Round No. 2
Harboggles

Pro

I concede. I can't keep up with all your quotations. I'm not admitting im wrong, just that you out spoke me.
bigbass3000

Con

You concede, all I am saying is that personal liberty always infringes on liberties of others, unless we are in a utopia, which we are not and never will be. Vote for the Neg, for him conceding.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by SweetBags 8 years ago
SweetBags
con gave more reasons and articulated better, even though i dont agree with him. not to mention pro conceeded.
Posted by Johnicle 8 years ago
Johnicle
READ IF YOU WANT TO TRY ONLINE DEBATE TOURNAMENTS... Since the release of the new website has been pushed back to June of 2008 (I wish the best of luck to parenthood:) but anyway, I have decided to attempt to run a tournament system off of facebook. If any of you want to join, I will try to make the facebook group by the end of today (March 23)... I will name the group "Online Debate Tournaments"... Once you get on, there should be some more explanation as to how I'm going to try to run it and what you have to do to be in them. I will try to get the first tournament started by April 1st... Thanks and I hope to see you on facebook!
Posted by DucoNihilum 8 years ago
DucoNihilum
Personal liberty to what extent? For example, does my hypothetical wife have the personal liberty to breast feed in a private store?
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