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Three Concepts of Political Liberty

Kyle Swan


The distinction between negative and positive liberty is familiar to political philosophers. The negative variety is freedom as noninterference. The positive variety is freedom as self-mastery. However, recently there has been an attempt on the part of a growing number of philosophers, historians, and legal scholars to recapture a third concept of political liberty uncovered from within the rich tradition of civic republicanism. Republican political liberty is freedom as nondomination. I argue that features that distinguish it from noninterference and self-mastery highlight the theoretical and practical advantages of liberty as nondomination. It is, among these candidates, best-suited to serve as the guiding principle for the States basic institutions and rules. The principle says that the State should secure nondomination among its citizens.

Kyle Swan, "Three Concepts of Political Liberty," Journal of Markets & Morality 6, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 117-142

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