- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 15, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199545731
- ISBN-13: 978-0199545735
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,227,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Quality of Freedom 1st Edition
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"[This book is] one of the best attempts so far to make sense of the concept of negative freedom, not only in terms of precision and consistency but also in terms of philosophical depth and overall comprehensiveness. It is rare to find such an incisive and illuminating discussion sustained so consistently over so many pages"--Philosophical Review
"In this rich and densely argued book, Matthew Kramer defends an austere, negative account of freedom...even those who profoundly disagree will often be stopped in their tracks by the relentlessness and quality of Kramer's work."--Times Higher Education Supplement
"Kramer's ambitious work is a worthy addition to the "negative versus positive liberty" debate spawned a half-century ago by Isaiah Berlin's inaugural lecture at Oxford University and published essay, "Two Concepts of Liberty" 1958) ... [T]he arguments in this book are persuasive, and it should be of great interest to those interested in theoretical and philosophical debates over negative and positive liberty."--The Law and Politics Book Review
About the Author
Matthew H. Kramer is a Professor of Legal and Political Philosophy at the University of Cambridge.
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Top Customer Reviews
Excerpt: Having begun with two postulates that delineate the necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of particular freedoms and unfreedoms, and having explored numerous facets and implications of those postulates, this book has closed with a chapter-long account of the property of overall freedom. Throughout the volume, a central theme has been the dichotomy between the strictly non-evaluative task of ascertaining the existence of particular freedoms or unfreedoms and the partly evaluative task of measuring someone's overall liberty. Nearly all previous evaluative approaches to the measurement of freedom have failed to heed that dichotomy sufficiently. In a markedly different fashion, Carter too has blurred that very distinction which he himself has done so much to highlight. In his case, of course, the misstep does not lie in suggesting that the existence of particular freedoms or unfreedoms will hinge on evaluative considerations; rather, he goes astray by obscuring the respects in which the extent of anyone's overall liberty does hinge on such considerations. As the second half of this chapter has argued, my conception of each person's overall liberty as a partly evaluative property is not only able to withstand all of Carter's challenges, but is also able to overcome the difficulties that plague his own theory-difficulties that become especially acute in any context where the partly evaluative character of each person's overall freedom becomes especially palpable.
Of course, when we recognize that the level of each person's overall liberty is partly determined by evaluative considerations, we are not thereby maintaining that that level is itself a product of moral/political principles. Normative concerns, such as principles of justice, operate not as fundamental determinants of the property of overall freedom but only at a subsequent stage where that property has emerged as a basic distribuendum. The evaluative aspect of each person's overall freedom is not to be conflated with the normative tenor of the principles that prescribe how freedom (or other desiderata) should be distributed. Hence, as has been discussed in my opening chapter, this book sets the stage for normative disputation instead of participating therein directly. Specifically, it sets the stage by elucidating the nature of one of the key distribuenda that will be governed by the principles on which the disputation is focused. I have sought to sharpen that disputation by helping to clarify what it is about.
Of course, no clarificatory effort can be entirely unaffected by moral/political considerations. In particular, any theory of socio-political freedom must take a stand on the question whether restrictions created by human beings are in some way to be treated differently from restrictions created purely by natural forces. My own stand on that question-my view that special treatment is indeed essential has been evident since my opening chapter's presentation of the U Postulate and has generated the need for my fourth chapter. What ultimately justifies and is a moral/political premise shows the distinctive importance of the ways in which human actions shape the settings wherein people live and behave. Nonetheless, although such a premise is undoubtedly moral/ political, it is so only at a rarefied height of abstraction. It leaves unaddressed and wholly unresolved the countless issues that are at stake in the normative disputation to which the preceding paragraph has referred. It is a premise that delimits the domain of social and political philosophy without pre-deciding or professing to pre-decide the outcomes of any of the myriad debates conducted within that domain. Thus, although this book has endeavoured at length to analyse one of the foremost concepts in political thought, it is in some respects a prolegomenon to works of political philosophy that go beyond it by entering the aforementioned debates.
In relation to normative matters, then, this book has not really sought to supply answers to various questions; it has instead sought to bestow greater precision on some of the questions themselves. In dealing with analytical matters, however, my discussions have been much more assertive. Throughout the volume, the aim has been not only to clarify certain positions on the nature of freedom but also to uphold them and to marshal arguments in favour of them. Those arguments have been oriented in part toward the common-sense comparisons (among people's levels of overall liberty) on which Carter has rightly laid emphasis. They have also been guided in part by considerations of internal consistency and exactitude and capaciousness, with an eye toward the sustainment of subtle and illuminating distinctions wherever possible. Although those standard virtues of philosophical analysis do not in themselves fully determine the direction of one's theorizing, they are indispensable lodestars. Any acceptable theory must partake of them to a very high degree. Finally, the arguments in this book have been oriented towards my paramount objective of presenting freedom as a property that is both rigorously measurable and partly evaluative. That objective, which gains its importance as the means of rendering fully intelligible many of the accounts of justice to which this book serves as a prolegomenon, has shaped a number of aspects of my theory. It has come to the fore, of course, in the current chapter. The first half of this chapter has dwelt more on freedom's rigorous measurability whereas the second half has dwelt more on freedom's partly evaluative character, but the chapter as a whole has attempted to provide a unified analysis of the central concept that structures thus book. It has sought to convey the quality of freedom.