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Ideas of Freedom (PH132)

Do stone walls make a prison and iron bars a cage? Or, does your degree of freedom depend on how you view your situation? Can fear or poverty rob you of your freedom? Can you have power without having freedom? Is freedom a right, a birthright, a privilege, or an illusion? Does freedom clash with security? Are legal and social constraints on individual freedom necessary to make our freedoms meaningful? What does it mean to have freedom of thought, expression, association, or movement? What do such freedoms amount to in practice?

This module will explore the complex conceptual contours of freedom and the ethical and political implications of taking freedom seriously. By the end of the module, students will be familiar with a range of key concepts and theories in moral, political, and legal philosophy including those relating to negative and positive freedom; autonomy and agency; Hohfeldian categories; political theories, (liberalism, republicanism, libertarianism); justice and equality; and free will, moral luck, and responsibility. Students will be expected to become familiar with the relevant literatures on these themes and be prepared to analyse competing philosophical accounts of freedom, both in seminar discussions and assessment.


Module Director:

Kimberley Brownlee


This module is worth 15 CATS.