Law and Liberty
LAW AND REPUBLICANISM, Samantha Besson and Jose Luis Marti, eds., Oxford University Press, Forthcoming
31 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2008
Date Written: October 8, 2008
The consensus since Bentham has been that law in itself is a restriction of freedom and that it is justified only if it perpetrates less restriction than it prevents. But there is an alternative view of the relationship between law and liberty, which draws on the older republican way of thinking that Bentham rejected. And this view has powerful support. Freedom on this approach requires not living under the uncontrolled will of another, where such a will may be imposed, not just by active interference, but also in other ways: say, by silent intimidation. Let the law represent the will of the community. Is it a will that in itself makes citizens unfree? Not if it is appropriately controlled. And can law be appropriately controlled? Arguably, yes.
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