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ATHENS AND THE SPECTRUM OF LIBERTY

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Abstract:

In this article, I attempt to answer the famous analyses of Benjamin Constant and Isaiah Berlin that the Classical Athenian Democracy had no conception of negative, individual, freedom. I do this by excavating an Athenian democratic concept of individual liberty from Classical Athenian texts. I go on to show that, whilst this has notable links to the later neo-Classical idea of freedom (excavated by the work of Quentin Skinner and Philip Pettit), there are also a number of important differences. This means that we should perhaps stop arguing over whether there are one, or two, or three, concepts of freedom, but investigate instead (and, then, apply, in contemporary political philosophy) different historical uses of the word ‘'liberty' (as here), though these, interestingly, might well contain a similar basic meaning (of non-interference).

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: matt.edge1@btinternet.com

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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