How do you define freedom?


Sultan of Swat
Staff member
Do we define freedom as something reached only in the company of the community? Does the community inhibit or expand freedom, and how? Do we give up our freedom to others out of laziness or virtue?

I am of the opinion that a certain amount of coercion in the form of law is needed to protect freedoms, but we enter a slippery slope therein.
your thoughts?


For a Free Scotland
Freedom is a way to excercise natural rights without intervention and prevention. One can give up their freedom by being ignorant in agreements (and thus giving up freedoms by not paying attention to how the agreement is constructed) or by giving it to an absolutist or authoritarian state. However, many states can retain one's personal freedom assuming their are representative and libertarian in nature.


Undead Intellectual
Freedom is being able to act upon one's own free will. They can wake up in the morning and now be afraid of being killed. They can own thier own land, they can making a living on their own by working a job. People can do whatever they want (obviously to some extent, within the law).


Registered Member
Freedom is just a word. It can mean a whole lot of things. Community can expand freedom and inhibit it. When community is the inhibiting force and one tries to fight it, for example being screwed by the legal system, that person is fighting for independence, a form of freedom. On the other hand, when a country earns their independence, it's an extremely community oriented event. An oppressing government can strip one of their freedom just like parents setting a curfew. It always depends on the situation and what kind of freedom the person is in need of. We can give up our freedom due to ignorance, laziness, virtue, respect, fear, trust, etc.


Registered Member
I was trying to think of a good way to define freedom but I felt my Philosophy book would probably have the best definition that encompassed the definition of freedom.

Freedom: The idea that a human decision or action is a person's own responsibility and that praise and blame may be appropriately ascribed. The most extreme interpretation of freedom is that the absence of any causes of determinations. Thus, an indeterminist would say that an event was free if it had no causes; some philosophers would say that a human act was free if it was only self-caused but not determined by anything else (including a person's character). Certain determinists, however (soft determinists), would say that an act is free only if it is "in character" and based on a person's desires and personality. Most generally, we say that a person's act was free, whether or not it was the result of a conscious decision and whether or not certain causes maybe have been involved, if we would say he or she could have done otherwise.

-pp. 218-227 from "The Big Questions" seventh edition by Robert C. Solomon

About the author

Robert C. Solomon is internationally renowned as a teacher and lecturer in philosophy. He is a teacher at the University of Texas. Received his Ph.D at the University of Michigan and has taught at Princeton, University of Pittsburgh, and the University of California. He is the author of over 40 books.

I felt that was a fairly good encompassing definition (for those that took the time to read it).


rainbow 11!
I think freedom is being able to skip work when you don't want to go. Being able to drink or smoke. Being able to listen to what you want and watch what you want. (Within reason. Don't watch ten year olds watching something they shouldn't.) Being able to read a book and not worry about someone arresting you.


A Darker Knight
Webster's dictionary defines freedom as th-:death:

Freedom to me, is the completely acting on one's free will. Of course, that kind of freedom will never be achieved or allowed. Though we live in a free country, laws and rules will keep us from being truly "free" for lack of a better word.


Ever think about the freedom in submission? It sounds ironic, but why do people give up at trying certain things, anyways?

Think about this: A guitarist wants to learn to play guitar well. SO, depending on what type of person he/she is, two things can happen. A) This person can find freedom in mastering the guitar; creative freedom. However, the B) person will find the work involved in achieving this to be a burden, hindering their freedom.

It's all relative.


There are so many ways I've heard freedom defined the word seems to have no meaning.

Freedom is, more or less, allowing any person to act as they will without harming others. By that logic, a man who shoots up heroine or does meth yet does not harm anyone can do just that. However, the community may want to keep that man from doing heroin or meth for his own good, in that scenario, yes, the community is inhibiting his freedom. The question is where does freedom end and where does community action or law begin (the big issues right now....)?

When the Roman Republic fell, the people themselves still believed in the Republic, but they were unwilling to take up arms to defend it against Caesar. We can give up our freedom, in a governmental sense, by our ignorance, apathy, and our unwillingness to fight (though when to fight is a tricky business in itself). I would also contend that to be truly free a man must strive to be rid of his vices, which can control him as well, though it is not the government's job to make him.


Registered Member
I define freedom as the ability to act as one wishes, as long as one does not oneself or others in doing so. Society enhances freedom. Individually, you can't do much. In a society, you can do great things. Law eliminates a natural freedom and in return gives greater freedom in the form of civil freedom. That's how it should be anyway. As long as the will of the people, a well-educated, rational, enlightened people, controls the making of Law, than Law creates freedom, not destroys it. In nature, your freedom is limited by your own personal strength, in society, your freedom is limited only by what is not harmful, and in return you get far more power to act.