Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are philosophic explorations of liberty realistic or interesting? My feeling: No.

Charles Petzold wrote a very nice essay on the John Stuart Mill book "On Liberty"
I am pretty cynical and pessimistic when it comes to philosophic explorations of liberty.  This was my comment:
1) Does the liberty of individuality really make most people happy?
Studies have found that American Conservatives and happier than American Liberals...
The reasons for the difference in happiness do not have to do with individuality, granted, but it is not clear that individualists would be happier.  I would suspect the opposite.
2) Am I alone in being very suspicious of any outside agency that promises to provide liberty?  Promises to provide liberty are nice, but I always assume I have exactly as much liberty as my determination and cunning can provide.
Consider the pathetic rate of progress when it comes to how much liberty the average American can expect to experience daily (especially minorities, Native Americans, women).  I pity anyone relying on outside agencies to provide liberty.
I feel differently about my responsibility to defend liberty.  I strive to defend the liberty of those I am responsible for, but I don't expect any in return, from any outside source.
Between these two points, I struggle to assess a great worth to philosophic explorations of liberty.

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