Kathleen O’Dwyer compares some competing conceptions of freedom.

Freedom is an emotive concept, evoking thoughts and feelings relating to rights, entitlements, possibilities and limitations. It is also a complex concept fraught with ambiguity. This complex issue of freedom, and particularly of moral freedom, is inevitably linked to issues of personal responsibility and accountability. In our everyday lives, do we freely choose our actions and attitudes, or is our behaviour determined by factors outside our control?

Well, what do we mean by ‘freedom’?

Freedom As Autonomy

As Isaiah Berlin famously wrote, sometimes freedom is understood negatively, as freedom from: freedom from hunger, from poverty, illness, or threat. This interpretation of freedom is intricately linked with a desire for security and safety, well-being and control.

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