How is a person’s freedom related to his or her preferences? Liberal theorists of negative freedom have generally taken the view that the desire of a person to do or not do something is irrelevant to the question of whether he is free to do it. Supporters of the “pure negative” conception of freedom have advocated this view in its starkest form: they maintain that a person is unfree to ф if and only if he is prevented from ф-ing by the conduct or dispositions of some other person(s). This definition of freedom is value-neutral in the sense that no reference is made to preferences over options or indeed to any other indicators of the values of options, either in the characterization of “ф-ing” itself (any conduct fits the bill) or in the characterization of the way in which ф-ing can be constrained (any prevention counts as a constraint on freedom). In a stimulating article recently published in Economics and Philosophy, Keith Dowding and Martin van Hees attack the pure negative-liberty theorists’ claim to have constructed a genuinely “preference-independent” conception of freedom. In this reply, we defend the pure negative conception against their attack. We first impugn their central claim that pure negative-liberty theories have to allow that a person’s preferences in themselves can be determinants of her own freedom. To this end, we distinguish between two ways in which a person’s freedom can be said to depend on her preferences: direct and indirect preference dependence. We then argue that only one of these kinds of “preference-dependence” - direct preference dependence - is unacceptable, whereas the other - indirect preference dependence - is both unavoidable and normatively unobjectionable.

How Changes in One’s Preferences can Affect One’s Freedom (and How They Cannot). A Reply to Dowding and van Hees

CARTER, IAN FRANK;
2008

Abstract

How is a person’s freedom related to his or her preferences? Liberal theorists of negative freedom have generally taken the view that the desire of a person to do or not do something is irrelevant to the question of whether he is free to do it. Supporters of the “pure negative” conception of freedom have advocated this view in its starkest form: they maintain that a person is unfree to ф if and only if he is prevented from ф-ing by the conduct or dispositions of some other person(s). This definition of freedom is value-neutral in the sense that no reference is made to preferences over options or indeed to any other indicators of the values of options, either in the characterization of “ф-ing” itself (any conduct fits the bill) or in the characterization of the way in which ф-ing can be constrained (any prevention counts as a constraint on freedom). In a stimulating article recently published in Economics and Philosophy, Keith Dowding and Martin van Hees attack the pure negative-liberty theorists’ claim to have constructed a genuinely “preference-independent” conception of freedom. In this reply, we defend the pure negative conception against their attack. We first impugn their central claim that pure negative-liberty theories have to allow that a person’s preferences in themselves can be determinants of her own freedom. To this end, we distinguish between two ways in which a person’s freedom can be said to depend on her preferences: direct and indirect preference dependence. We then argue that only one of these kinds of “preference-dependence” - direct preference dependence - is unacceptable, whereas the other - indirect preference dependence - is both unavoidable and normatively unobjectionable.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11571/105508
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