Friday, 31 October 2014

Common Sense Freedom

Fourth and last comes the Principle of Common Sense Freedom:

Except where countermanded by justice, the law or respect for rights, every individual is free to choose and act as he or she wishes.

This Principle is a catch-all. It’s a little bit like the Tenth Amendment to the US constitution. It says, in essence: When there is no other guide, the choice in any matter affecting you is yours.

The Principle also makes it plain that freedom is the fourth and lowest in the hierarchy of Principles. It can be trumped by common sense justice. It can be trumped by the law, and so by moral equality. And it can be trumped by the obligation to respect others’ rights. But it can’t be trumped by anything else. Not ever; not for any pretext or excuse; not at all.

I’ll here bring out three particularly important kinds of freedom. First, freedom to choose. You are naturally free to make your own choices and decisions. Second, and closely related, freedom to refuse, to say “no,” or in more choice language “bugger off.” And third, freedom to make mistakes, and to learn from them.

There’s a follow-up, too. In any matter which doesn’t involve or affect anyone else, you as an individual have absolute, total freedom to do exactly what you want. This is how I formulate my equivalent of the “self-ownership” principle put forward by my liberty friends.

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