Ecological Limits and the Meaning of Freedom: A Defense of Liberty as Non-Domination
AbstractIt is now widely acknowledged that global environmental problems raise pressing social and political issues, but relatively little philosophical attention has been paid to their bearing on the concept of liberty. This must surprise us, because the question of whether environmental policies are at odds with individual liberty is bound to be controversial in the political arena. First, this article explains why a thorough philosophical debate about the relation between liberty and environmental constraints is needed. Second, based on Philip Pettit’s typology of liberty, it assesses how different conceptions of liberty fare in a context of stringent ecological limits. Indeed, a simple conceptual analysis shows that some conceptions of liberty are more compatible than others with such limits, and with the policies necessary to avoid overshooting them. The article concludes that Pettit’s conception of liberty as non-domination is more compatible with the existence of stringent ecological limits than the two alternatives considered.
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