Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Freedom to do what we ought

The May issue of Cato Unbound presents 4 essays on the relationship between conservatism and libertarianism. Aside from the terrible name fusionism, the essays are an important read.

They all bring out different and important (though not necessarily correct) points. The latter essays include responses to earlier essays so are preferably read in order, but if you only have time to read one then read Ballor's. He grasps and explains the fundamental divide. Libertarians want liberty, but often for different reasons
What these differing conceptions of liberty amount to, in my view, is this: one views liberty, particularly political liberty, as an important and yet limited good, while the other views liberty as an end in itself, in fact the highest end of human life itself. The former view of political liberty is primarily that it is an instrumental good that is a necessary condition for the realization of even greater goods in other spheres, like the family, the church, voluntary associations, markets, and so on. The latter view holds liberty in the political realm to be, in some significant sense, the highest expression of human good and a codification of the freedom of choice as a good as such. To put it bluntly, one views liberty as the freedom to do what we ought, while the other views liberty as the freedom to do what we want.
I would add that limitation of the state is an important component of government in a fallen world. It limits the evil of evil men. The Kingdom of God ruled over by Jesus could be quite expansive without the destructive effects that man's imitation of this kingdom causes. That said, love constrains us in the Kingdom of God which suggests that servants of the Lord are given much liberty, liberty to love as they ought.

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