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No Such Thing as Freedom

  1. Aug 8, 2004 #1
    There is no such thing as "freedom" because it can't be defined objectively. No one is free to do anything they want or free to have a life they desire. Many are not free to use drugs, rent prostitutes, murder, rape, own certain weapons, to gamble, practice alternative religions, clone their children, etc. Many are not free to live without poverty, to have sex with anyone they desire, to be free of a low IQ, to be free of disease, etc. Rather, the freedoms of every person is limited by societal laws as well as the laws of science. I wish I was free to explore the universe, but I don't have that freedom. So, when Neo-Conservatives say that America is the only "free" nation, that Muslims seek to distroy American "freedoms," and that America will facilitate "freedom" all over the world, they don't know what they are talking about. They can't define "freedom" objectively. Do they mean the freedom to choose to watch "American Idol" over "Survivor" on the Fox News Channel? The freedom to Choose Taco Bell over Burger King? The freedom to drive a pick-up truck? If so, they need to be more specific. Instead of using the word "freedom" as an entity all in itself (which does not exist), they need to specify exactly what types of freedoms they are referring to. A more objective statement of Neo-Cons would be "I wish to give Muslim nations the freedom to eat pork, drink alcohol, watch the Fox Channel, practice Christianity, and listen to country music," for example. Of course, many Muslims may not care for these freedoms, but would choose other types of freedoms that are not found in America, such as the freedom to stone women, the freedom to ban Christianity, the freedom to have an Islamic theocracy, etc. So, the main point here is that freedom is in the eye of the beholder, and what one person considers freedom, another person may consider fascist. Some Islamic nations think the United States is the fascist nation that does not support "freedom."

    So, for Neo-Conservatives to use the word "freedom" as an absolute term where they are linking their desired freedoms as being the absolute definition of freedom, is incorrect.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2004
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  3. Aug 8, 2004 #2


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    I think it's pretty clear that Neo-Cons, as well as the rest of America, means by "freedom" the ability of all human beings to legally do that which is not state-sanctioned so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of another human being. In that respect, the US is a heck of a lot freer than any Islamic theocracy.
  4. Aug 8, 2004 #3
    "the rights of another human being," again, a subjective phrase. "Rights" are simply arbitrary policies set up by individual societies to meet the needs of the citizens. Different people and different individuals differ on what they believe is a right. Democrats think abortion is a right; Republicans disagree, etc.

    I would ask you to provide an objective defintion of "freedom" before you can say the United States is more free. What are the parameters of your definition of "freedom?" If the United States meets those parameters and no other nation comes close, then you can say America is more free, but with the addtional words "free, as defined by what I think is freedom."
  5. Aug 8, 2004 #4


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    I don't mean things that are morally right. I just mean the basic ones - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as the right to private property, which is often overlooked. Whether or not these rights exist in any objective sense is beside the point. This is the definition of "rights" adhered to by the United States, which is pretty clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence. It is my belief, and it is a belief shared by many, that these are rights that should be observed, and that the infringement upon these rights of any entity, whether it be government or individual, should be stopped.

    Well, I'm just repeating myself here, but the definition of freedom being used is the ability to legally do or think anything that does not infringe upon the rights of another human being (using the definition of rights from above), whether or not the action or thought is popular or in accordance with a certain prevailing viewpoint.

    One thing I'm not clear on is how you think it is possible to objectively define any word. A word simply means whatever it is accepted to mean.
  6. Aug 9, 2004 #5
    Of course, this is an unrealist phrase. "Life": okey, so a poor person can steal money because he can't afford life saving medications. He feels it is his constitutional right to steal to ensure his right to life is maintained. Many constatutionalists may disagree here, which is why I say we need to lay out the rules of what behaviors are acceptable to ensure Life.

    "Liberty": Of course, everyone wants different types of Liberties: hippies and gangsters want the Liberty to smoke pot, rapists want the Liberty to rape, thiefs want the Liberty to steal, sexual men want the Liberty to rent prostitutes, etc. So, Liberty in its purist form, if such a thing can be defined, can't become a reality: one's man's desired Liberty would be perceived as infringing on another man's Liberty.

    "persuit of happiness": I am sure you can see where I am going from here - what makes a rapist happy? What makes a killer happy? So, obviously we can't maintain a society that ensures everyone's happiness is allowed to be persued.

    So basically, I am saying that words like "Liberty" "Freedom" and similar words are non-tangible, or in other words (sorry, I'm poor with words), they are very subjective, abstract types of words that don't have any absolute definition.

    Okey, thanks for clarifying here; this is what I wanted, for people to understand that there are many different moral systems, each arbitrarily chosen, and that one should define his version of what freedom/rights are and differentiate it from other people's versions. You stated that you choose a moral/societal system in which the official Bill of Rights and Constitution is used as the paradigm. I think more specifically you are using the Libertarian paradigm. My problem is with Neo-Cons who don't define what they mean when they use words like "freedom" and "Liberty" in absolute terms. They don't understand that their version of freedom/liberty is just one version and that each culture differs in this respect.

    Well, as objectively as possible, as in describing or explaining a situation that is "field independent (can be understood by anyone in a universal way without emotional biases clouding the explanation, or something like that)."
  7. Aug 9, 2004 #6


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    I think you are missing the difference between the word "rights" (or "freedoms") and specific rights/freedoms. Just because you disagree on certain specific freedoms doesn't mean there is no such thing as freedom.

    Also, if you list the rights/freedoms of an Islamic society next to those of an American/western one, you will likely find the American list longer. Hence, more freedom.

    Also, it should be pretty clear that when an American uses the word "freedom" they are talking about the modern, western version from our political theory.

    And one thing that our political theory contains is the idea of fairness. Having one set of rules for women and another for men, for example, is not freedom, its a reduction in freedom for half of the citizens of a country. "Freedom to ban Christianity," is a contradiction in terms, as is "freedom to set up an Islamic theocracy." Modern political theory holds that "freedom" is something available to all.

    Also, AFAIK, there is no such thing as 'Islamic political theory.' No Iranian Locke, Pakistani Hobbes or Syrian Rousseau. An Islamic Theocracy is whatever those who create it want it to be. That's a recepie for trouble.

    And another thing, the definition of the scope of rights/freedoms/liberties seems to be in your grasp, but you are ignoring the obviousness of it. The scope of your individual rights has one primary limit: it ends where the rights of another begin. Apply that universally and you have the basis for all rights.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2004
  8. Aug 9, 2004 #7
    I say there is no such thing as freedom in the absolute sence since everyone views freedom differently.

    I disagree. You can make either list as long or as short as you want. Muslims have the right to drink water, to defacate, to stone women, to eat dinner, etc. I can make a very long list of behaviors Muslims are allowed to carry out.

    There will be similarities and differences in opinion regarding what freedom is. The typical Republican will say they have the freedom to pay low taxes, the freedom to own guns, the freedom to attack homosexuals, etc. Democrats will say the opposite. Libertarians will say things even differently. Freedom is in the eye of the beholder.

    I say that gender equality politics is not "freedom" but rather one morality/political system espoused especially by Liberals, and somewhat lesser by Conservatives.

    I disagree. If you look at leading Neo-Conservative elites such as David Horowitz and Joseph Farah, they talk about Muslims in America distroying their freedom of being a Judeo-Christian nation (Farah is Christian, Horowitz is Jewish) by wishing for the phrase Judeo-Christian to be changed over to Judeo-Christian-Islam. To these guys, freedom means not having any elements of Islam in America. To Muslim nations, freedom means being free to live in a society where Islamic concepts are saturated throughout their society without the hindrance of Christians.

    Modern political theory has yet to define "freedom" objectively.

    Again, rights are a subjective concept, there are no absolute rights. Each culture defines rights differently based on the ethos of the various cultures.

    Neo-Cons never have an objective definition of freedom. They say they support freedom and that the Democrats are fascist, yet, Neo-Cons want to ban many "freedoms" like drug use, prostitution, porn, gay marriage, strip clubs, flag-burning, etc. Neo-Cons don't use the constitution completely to support their version of freedom, but pick and choose, but always supporting the Second Amendment, but maybe not for long. Christian morality is always changing each generation, so the "freedoms" Neo-Cons support one generation changes the next generation. There is no consistancy or objective principles involved in modern Neo-Conservatism.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2004
  9. Aug 9, 2004 #8
    I'd just like to clear up the meaning of the word 'liberty'.
    You can't say the citizens of a country has the 'liberty to steal', its a contradiction of terms, because by stealing you break the victims liberty.

    If stoning women is allowed in a Muslic country, it's not a liberty, do you think the women like to be stoned?
    America has the ideology 'do whatever you want as long as it doesnt infringe upon another mans freedom', as such stoning women is not allowed.

    If a country has legalized acts, that at the core is morally wrong or infringes upon another mans freedom, then that country is less free.
    As such I think you can say that America has more freedom.

    Also, exploring space isn't something you aren't allowed to do, it's nature that inhibits that freedom, not the government, if we had the technology for civilians to explore space, you'd probably be allowed.
  10. Aug 9, 2004 #9


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    Well if it doesn't exist, how can anyone view it at all, lol?

    What you mean to say is that there isn't an absolute standard of freedom, or, that there are many different interpretations of how freedom should work. I'd agree with the latter, but not the former (though I'm in the minority on that).
    Would you include the freedom to pat your head while rubbing your tummy? I guess in light of your view that there is no such thing as freedom, it is understandable that you would have trouble making a list.
    That's true (to a point), but again, it can only be in the eye if it exists.
    I'm confused - you are talking about religion and politics as the basis for freedoms, but now you say that gender equality is politics but not freedom? Sounds to me like an excuse to deny freedoms to half the population.
    You're arguing against an extremist position (one that does not reflect reality in the US) to promote your view. Don't you see a problem with that?
    So those extremists think freedom means banning Islam and you think freedom means banning Christianity. Sounds to me like those guys are just your type of people! But then, now you're in a catch-22. You can't have it both ways - you can't disagree with one group and agree with the other when they both propose exactly the same thing.
    Has the concept of a "tyranny of the majority" made its way to the Middle-East yet?
    Ok, but thats different from saying there is no such thing as rights. I disagree, but that's a topic for another thread. We have several on the concept of moral absolutism vs moral relativism. One quick question though: Since presumably Islamic law is derived from the Koran, presumably the Koran was inspired by God, presumably God's will is the very definition of an absolute standard, shouldn't Islamic law be absolute in nature? It seems to me that in practice, its treated that way - that would be the only real justification for banning other religions, for example.
    All this says to me is that you've never read any. What do you think of Hobbes's concept of rights?
    You keep using this term. Do you mean to imply that they are a majority in the US or that their view is what is intended by the Constitution?
  11. Aug 9, 2004 #10


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    Bears repeating. Maybe we should expand though by showing the definitions: (from dictionary.com)

    -freedom: The capacity to exercise choice; free will.

    Looks like an excellent defnition to me.

    -liberty: The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one's own choosing.

    Appears to me to be a near-exact synonym for freedom.

    -right: That which is just, morally good, legal, proper, or fitting.

    So a right is a freedom with the caveat that its morally correct. The 'freedom' to stone a woman, for example, could be a functional part of a body of laws, but that doesn't make it right or a right. Modern political theory holds that freedoms/liberties are based on rights. Hence the contradiction bola and I pointed out.

    U.S. - what do you think of these definitions and do you have a different idea?
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2004
  12. Aug 9, 2004 #11
    I agree with that russ, but I also believe that by infringing upon another mans freedom, you are taking a part of their freedom and giving it to yourself, thus making the country as a whole 'less free'.

    A free'er country has equal rights for all citizens, not seperated rights defined by race, class or other classifications, those are mistakes which have been made all through history and I think proves me right.
  13. Aug 9, 2004 #12
    What about this: Instead of first stating that there is not freedom, what if you ask what makes you trapped or imprisoned? And eventually how you may free yourself from that prison?
  14. Aug 9, 2004 #13
    That's how all liberties are; the Liberty of Neo-Cons to pollute the environment by driving SUVs or what have you breaks the "victims" liberties of breathing fresh air, drinking clean water, etc.

    The liberty of Neo-Cons to keep all the income he earns by not paying taxes infringes on the liberties of a poor person to eat food via tax funded welfare. etc.

    Do you think Liberals like breathing bad air, or like not getting welfare if they are poor? Such is the nature of liberty: one man's liberty always infringes on another man's liberty.

    Yes, the United States does have a legal system in effect, its parameters just need to be defined beyond the extremely subjective phrase "America is free."

    And how do you define "morally wrong" when everyone has a different moral beliefs? Democrats think abortion is morally okey, Republicans disagree. Democrats think guns are immoral, Republicans think the opposite. There are no absolute morals.
  15. Aug 9, 2004 #14

    My view is that there is no absolute definition of freedom since everyone views freedom differently.

    Gender equality is one subjective view of freedom. It is not "freedom" by absolute definition.

    Why are you speculating at what my personal political views are? I am debating the definition of freedom, I am not making a case for my personal political system to be put into affect. No where have I stated what specific laws I wish to be put into effect. There is no way for you to even know my political, religious, or racial background. I am no debate expert, but wouldn't your comments be considered to be "straw men" or "ad populum" or "red herring?"

    Joseph Farah and David Horowitz are relatively mainstream Neo-Con leaders. Second, I am showing that "freedom" is a subjective and personal term by pointing out the many definitions of freedom that exist out there, and can exist.

    Why are you speculating at what my personal political views are? I am debating the definition of freedom, I am not making a case for my personal political system to be put into affect. No where have I stated what specific laws I wish to be put into effect. There is no way for you to even know my political, religious, or racial background. I am no debate expert, but wouldn't your comments be considered to be "straw men" or "red herring" or "ad hominem?"
  16. Aug 9, 2004 #15

    1. The condition of being free of restraints
    2. Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, or oppression.
    3. Political independence.
    Exemption from the arbitrary exercise of authority in the performance of a specific action; civil liberty: freedom of assembly.
    4. Exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition: freedom from want.
    5. The capacity to exercise choice; free will: We have the freedom to do as we please all afternoon.
    6. Ease or facility of movement: loose sports clothing, giving the wearer freedom.
    7.Frankness or boldness; lack of modesty or reserve: the new freedom in movies and novels.
    8. a)The right to unrestricted use; full access: was given the freedom of their research facilities.
    b)The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship: the freedom of the city
    9. A right or the power to engage in certain actions without control or interference: “the seductive freedoms and excesses of the picaresque form” (John W. Aldridge).

    According to the dictionary freedom is all around us all the time. What you are saying does not exist actually has a lot of everyday examples.
    Freedom does happen. It is only ones perception of freedom that changes when one can not see the freedom they own. Freedom exists though it may seem as though it is not all that it is cracked up to be... :uhh:
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2004
  17. Aug 9, 2004 #16


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    A few major issues:
    Well, if you're starting to learn your error, that's good - but the title of this thread is quite explicit. Just to be clear, are you now correcting yourself? If so, I commend you on your intellectual honesty.
    My mistake - I assumed you believed in the argument you were making. Do you or don't you believe stoning women (for any reason) is a valid freedom?

    Also, if this is a question of definitions and not advocacy of a certain system, why did you not comment on the definitions posted?
  18. Aug 9, 2004 #17
    This is an irrelevant question since the point of this thread is to discuss the subjectivity of freedom, not to promote one version of freedom over another.
  19. Aug 10, 2004 #18
    Well in that case, to put it simply, the less people in a country feel they have been severly limited in their freedom, the less free the country is as a whole.
    If one political group HAVE to do something that will infringe another groups freedom, then a compromise must be made to ensure both groups feel justified.

    Freedom is subjective in a way, but part of growing up and being mature, is realizing that you can't always have what you want, and then say to yourself 'ok I didn't get exactly what I wanted, but I can't say my freedom has been inihibited in such a way that it matters to me much'. If everyone could say this, then whole countries could be more free as whole countries.
  20. Aug 10, 2004 #19


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    It appears to me that that's exactly what you are doing. I'm finished here.
  21. Aug 11, 2004 #20


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    sounds quite relevant to me being a woman...especially when you stated:

    and yes, i think there is absolute freedom, but there may be consequences to it...you have the absolute freedom to murder, to rape, to steal, etc, but if you are caught, you will pay.
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