Individual Freedom vs. Majority Rule Essay

1680 Words 7 Pages
Individual Freedom vs. Majority Rule

Freedom is one of the most central and certainly most emotive issues in political philosophy. It has been discussed since the times of ancient Greece, and is still as controversial and divisive a topic as ever. This question deals with two separate questions concerning freedom: Firstly, why we consider freedom necessary, and secondly, what exactly is meant by freedom. Clearly, the answer to the second part will greatly affect the answer to the first, but it shall be seen that it is a very challenging task to arrive at a definition of freedom. It is possible, however, to make this job easier by not strictly defining freedom, and using an examination into the desirability of freedom to help form
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It seems, therefore, that one of the main reasons for the moral desirability of freedom is the fact that freedom allows the pursuit of happiness, which is inherently good. The question is then raised as to whether or not liberty is then also inherently good. This can be shown to not be the case by looking further than simply the individual, and the effects certain freedoms have on society. It can be seen that there can be certain freedoms that may be 'bad', and therefore certain restrictions on freedom that may be 'good'. A simple example of this may be in the form of traffic laws - I may have the desire to get to my destination quicker by driving the wrong way down a one-way road, but no-one would say that the restriction on my freedom to do that without punishment is necessarily wrong. It would seem then that the main root of the moral desirability of freedom lies in our wants. This raises two very important questions. Firstly, many scholars note that our wants can be ranked into more significant long-term goals, and lower, short-term desires. It is often the case that shorter-term desires, such as the desire for comfort can prevent us from achieving greater, long term goals such as climbing the mountain.

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