Liberty and Law. Institutional Circumstances of Freedom

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In this article I discuss different ways of conceptualising the relation between liberty and law. By ‘law’ I refer throughout to law in the sense of civil law: rules with accompanying sanctions, promulgated by a legislator for the regulation of action in political society. I do not intend to say anything about ‘natural law’, unless I explicitly state otherwise. For the purposes of my argument I will loosely group the positions I discuss under different labels: ‘liberty from the law’, ‘liberty by the law’, and ‘liberty under law’. There is nothing self-serving about these labels; indeed, they may appear simplistic and historically inept. I use them to direct our attention and in order to illustrate a general point that I wish to make, a point that seems to me to fall out of the preceeding discussion. That point is that concepts like liberty are institution dependent and that we cannot hope to understand or even talk about what they mean without adhering to that fact. To anticipate, I will argue that even when liberty is understood in terms of the absence of law, the presence of law or the possibility of its presence will have to be assumed in principle in order for its absence to make sense.


Externa organisationer
  • External Organization - Unknown

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Filosofi, etik och religion


Sidor (från-till)99-114
TidskriftRedescriptions. Yearbook of Political Thought and Conceptual History
StatusPublished - 2007
Peer review utfördJa
Externt publiceradJa