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Liberty - Coursework Example

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Liberty is a word which is often used politically wherein it is advocated and fought for. According to most dictionaries liberty is the state of immunity from exercise of authority. It also means a personal freedom one possesses or has to possess so as to make one's own choice, be it in speech, opinion, worship, occupation or anything. Defining liberty is almost impossible without using the words which mean the absence of coercion. But is liberty just the absence of restraint "By liberty then we can only mean a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will; this is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may." (David Hume, 1748)
Good and bad are relative things. One person's good may be other person's bad. Likewise, liberty and restraint are also relative things. An absence of restraint for committing an act of robbery cannot be called liberty. If all restraints are minimized, so as to bring a complete absence of any kind of control, one would hope to achieve liberty. But when restraints are removed entirely, the world will not have equality, and there will be battles and bloodshed. So the definition of the word needs something more or less than bare absence of restraints. Going by the general definitions, no one can have liberty because no one is free to do all that is wanted. Everybody is subject to some superior power to live against personal wishes. In the following sub-headings let us take a deeper study of the word and its meaning.

Immunity from Authority
"He (Man) must have a master; but the master may be Nature or may be a fellow man. When he is under the impersonal coercion of Nature, we say that he is free; and when he is under the personal coercion of some one above him, we call him, according to the degree of his dependence, a slave, a serf, or a vassal." (Spencer, 1891)
History has many instances showing that liberty was the cause for people of various countries to fight which eventually lead to the overthrow of their governments. Aristocrats have always been revolted against and the French revolution and the Russian revolution stand testimony to that. As a matter of fact, Jean Jacques Rousseau's French Revolution slogan, "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" became the basic principles for democracy in the world. Even now many parts of the world struggle for liberty. In Pakistan and Myanmar, people are fighting for democracy against the military regimes. In this political sense, the restraint is in the form of anti-democratic rule. Such a government can be said to curb the people's freedom because the restraint imposed on them affects them, their country and prevents improvement on a global level. But at the same time, every country has a judiciary and the police, in order to protect the people from law offenders. The judicial laws are also restrictions laid down so that any action committed by common men does not go against the welfare of the nation. The judiciary has the power to punish offenders of the law. One may tend to opine that this affects the freedom of thought, belief and action of, say, a thief, or a murderer. Police could be wrongly thought of as ones who wipe out the liberty of a thief. Thus, it is ...Show more


The definition of liberty as mere absence of restraint will be improper since it will make it appear that no one has liberty. Analyzing the general meaning of the word as immunity from authority and also a personal freedom of making one's own choice or freedom from confinement, we look at how the word can be defined in a better way…
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Liberty Coursework essay example
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