Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Democracy and Freedom

Posted in response to this question on Quora:
Democracy: From whose perspective is the degree of freedom of a society best judged?

Like beauty, freedom is in the eye of the beholder.  A prisoner with access to a well-stocked library may feel free while a well-paid executive may feel trapped by the demands of office.

Because of the diversity of human needs and perceptions, I don't believe a categorical response to this question is possible.  There is a general consensus that we must give up a portion of our freedom to enjoy the benefits of society, so I think we can say the degree of freedom of a society is best judged by a majority of the members of that society.

That's not a definitive answer, though, because some members of the society may feel improperly constrained while others feel they are enjoying complete freedom.

I regret I can't offer a more soul-satisfying response.

Fred Gohlke

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