Freedom as Anti-domination
Harbour, Michael David
The core commitment of liberalism is that individual liberty is in some sense primary. There is, however, much disagreement over the concept of liberty itself. In this dissertation, I attempt to determine which conception of liberty is the properly liberal one. Ultimately, I argue in favor of what I call the anti-domination conception of liberty. I begin by examining other conceptions of liberty that are prominent in the contemporary literature, specifically Isaiah Berlin’s distinction between “negative” and “positive” liberty – as well as variants of these views – and Philip Pettit’s “non-domination” conception. Of these, I argue that none are consistent with basic liberal commitments and intuitions. As an alternative, I develop the anti-domination conception of liberty in which liberty is understood as reciprocity of power. One is free, on the anti-domination account, to the extent that one stands in an equal relation of power with others. This account, I argue, is conceptually unique from alternative views in that it is a status-based, as opposed to an option based, conception of liberty. As such, I contend that it is the conception that best coheres with core liberal commitments and values.