Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Philosophic Foundations of Freedom: A Conference on the Principle of Individual Rights

This conference is going on today and tomorrow in Los Angeles. I really like their summary of the principles upon which a government restricted solely to the protection of individual rights would be founded:
What is liberty? Why is it desirable? How is a free society achieved?

Today, it is relatively uncontroversial that freedom is good, but there is widespread disagreement about what it actually constitutes and how to implement it. Some believe that liberty amounts to the wishes of a democracy being carried out; others believe that it is being faithful to a literal interpretation of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers. But is there an objective basis in philosophy for determining what freedom is in principle and in practice?

Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, laid out such philosophic principles: A free society requires limited government that enacts and enforces objective laws for the sole purpose of protecting individual rights. It is where the government does not interfere, by penalty or reward, in thought, production, or trade. It requires a separation of church and state, science and state, education and state, and economics and state.
Unfortunately, the progressive left and the religious right - among others - believe that there is such a thing as too much freedom, which is why it bears repeating that freedom is required because individual human beings are a value solely because they are individuals, and must be free to act on that value if they are to live as humans.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Would you please explain what you mean when you write: "individual human beings are a value solely because they are individuals"? I want to understand what you're trying to say here, and I'm not sure that I do.

  2. What I mean is that a human being's value comes from the fact that he or she exists. Human beings exist as individuals, they have value as individuals, and they need not look outside or beyond that for their basic value.

    Of course, this value is something a human being must act to uphold if he or she is to live, but that is a separate issue.