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Step 11: The Social Contract: Freedom To, Freedom From

Isaiah Berlin discussed some problems with logic and rationality as a means to get to the truth or find a correct answer. It really strikes at what it means to have pluralistic views in a society, or to champion rationality as a culture. And we should have the Freedom to debate that.

But what exactly do we mean by Freedom? And if freedom is my right as an American, why am I not free to scream in your face or steal your stuff? Berlin points out the distinction that we have a Freedom To do certain actions, but as part of being in a society we follow a “social contract” (discussed by Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes) that trades safety, or Freedom From violence and disease, in exchange for good citizenship.

The question is, if your government/state/nation cannot provide you Freedom From certain things, what are you Free To do? If, indeed, the “social contract” is a contract, and if that contract is broken, or was merely window dressing to placate the populace, then what happens next?

I don’t have any answers. I am merely thinking through some current problems and pulling from some readings.

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References/ Resources

Isaiah Berlin Positive & Negative Liberty [link]

Wiki Social Contract [link]

Gerrymandering [link]

Wiki Corporate Personhood [link]

Citizens United (2012): Corporate election reform, where spending money is considered free speech, and since corporations have “personhood” they can contribute unlimited funds if they they jump through a few hoops by creating a PAC. [link]

NYT “Our Democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true” [link]

Hobbes Leviathan [link] [link]


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