The Quality of Freedom

Paperback | May 29, 2008

byMatthew H. Kramer

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At least since the publication of Isaiah Berlin's famous essay "Two Concepts of Liberty" nearly half a century ago, political philosophers have argued vigorously over the relative merits of "positive" and "negative" accounts of freedom. Matthew Kramer writes squarely within thenegative-liberty tradition, but he incorporates a number of ideas that are quite often associated with theories of positive liberty. Much of The Quality of Freedom is devoted to elaborating the necessary and sufficient conditions for the existence of particular freedoms and unfreedoms; however, thebook's cardinal objective is to establish the measurability of each person's overall freedom and of each society's aggregate freedom. On the one hand, Kramer contends that the existence of any particular instance of liberty or unfreedom is a matter of fact that can be confirmed or disconfirmedwithout any reliance on evaluative or normative considerations. On the other hand, he argues that the extent of each person's overall freedom or unfreedom cannot be ascertained entirely in the absence of evaluative assumptions. By combining those two positions and developing them in detail, Kramerpits himself against all positive accounts of liberty and most negative accounts. In the course of so doing, he aims to demonstrate the rigorous measurability of overall liberty - something that many writers on freedom have casually dismissed as impossible. Although Kramer concentrates principallyon constructing a systematic analysis of sociopolitical freedom, he engages critically with the work of many of the leading contemporary writers on the topic.

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At least since the publication of Isaiah Berlin's famous essay "Two Concepts of Liberty" nearly half a century ago, political philosophers have argued vigorously over the relative merits of "positive" and "negative" accounts of freedom. Matthew Kramer writes squarely within thenegative-liberty tradition, but he incorporates a number of...

Matthew H. Kramer is a Professor of Legal and Political Philosophy at the University of Cambridge.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:496 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.02 inPublished:May 29, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199545731

ISBN - 13:9780199545735

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Fine Distinctions3. Instances of Freedom4. Sources of Unfreedom5. Ascertaining the Extent of Everyone's Overall FreedomConclusion

Editorial Reviews

`...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 itshould be of great interest to those interested in theoretical and philosophical debates over negative and positive liberty... 'The Law and Politics Book Review