How Do You Know If You’re Truly Free? by Philip Pettit at TEDxNewYork (Transcript)

If we can think it was just tough luck, then we are really living in a society which we believe, hopefully rightly, that we, the people, share equally in controlling it. Personal freedom means freedom under the law, freedom before the law, protected by the law, in a supportive culture in the exercise of our basic liberties. Public freedom that I’ve just been talking about means freedom, means control, means freedom over the law. It means control over the law, that we as people share equally in shaping that law. The idea that the law is actually what makes us free in the realm of personal freedom, well, that runs against what I think of as the libertarian fallacy, which is the fallacy of thinking that only the market makes us free, that government and law is always an intrusion.

On the contrary, if you start with Nora, and you think about what it is to be a free person, you realize that the law is essential to making us free. It’s not an enemy of freedom; it’s a friend of freedom. On the other front, the public freedom, there’s a libertarian illusion, a libertarian oversight, which is not to recognize how important democracy is. China, for example, has embraced the sort of libertarianism which supposedly delivers freedom of the market, indifferent to the fact that it’s a system that the people do not control. It’s really important that we dispel this libertarian fallacy and get over this libertarian oversight and recognize that freedom is rich and spicy and it’s got demands that we all still have to work for, both on the personal front and the public front. Thank you very much.

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