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On the Connection of Law to Liberty: An Observation

To draw an admittedly imperfect parallel, I would note that the Law of Gravity impedes my perfect freedom, thank goodness.  Freedom from the strictures of the gravitational pull of the Earth would be liberating, no doubt, but then how many other things would I be unable to do without its yoke?

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    Freedom from the strictures of the gravitational pull of the Earth would be liberating, no doubt

    Until you floated up high enough to run out of oxygen.

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  2. Stonetools says:

    To a certain extent, what we are seeing now is a redo of the debate between the Federalists and anti-Federalists. Unfortunately, people seem to forget that the anti-Federalist way was tried first- and it failed almost immediately, which is why we have a Constitution with a strong federal government, a standing army, and robust power to tax.
    We have Big Gumint because we like Big Gumint, and it works. Unfortunately, in our heart we like our anti Federalist fantasies so in our polls we call ourselves “conservatives” and favor “limited government”. We should ask everyone of those folks in favor of “limited government ” if they were are in favor of closing down the federal highway that no doubt runs near their house or if they want to give up mail delivery to their house. I bet we would get some different answers.

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  3. CSK says:

    We as humans developed the concept of liberty while operating under the constraints of gravity, so the point is probably moot.

    Liberty might be defined as the maximum freedom to operate within the bounds of ethical and physical limitations.

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  4. @Stonetools: Indeed, I am constantly struck as to the degree to which many who claim to be great heroes of the constitution make anti-federalist arguments (see, e.g., many in the Tea Party movement).

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  5. @Ron Beasley: Exactly.

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  6. Tillman says:

    Don’t make me quote half of Tolstoy’s philosophical treatise at the end of War and Peace* on free will and the swarmlike mentality of mankind that drives all historical forces. Dude had a whole paragraph where he defined the limits and merits of free will by using his arm as an example.

    * Unlike Ayn Rand, Tolstoy was a) a good writer and b) knew better to keep his philosophical rumblings in a separate book and away from the mouths of his characters.

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  7. Andre Kenji says:

    @Tillman:

    b) knew better to keep his philosophical rumblings in a separate book and away from the mouths of his characters.

    His later work(And even Anna Karenina) is full of his philosophical rumblings.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Heh. Thank you Steven.

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  9. Tillman says:

    @Andre Kenji: It’s an easy call to make, that’s for sure. “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” is ironically less about Ivan Ilyich and more about the process of dying.

    War and Peace is technically worse than Anna Karenina in this regard, though, since it starts off as a pure narrative and gradually turns more into a “philosophy of history” essay with novel accompaniment. I still give Tolstoy credit though since none of his characters, which a few exceptions like Pierre, make distractingly-long speeches about philosophy in the books. And his writing is good enough that the speeches don’t seem out of place or out of character.

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  10. Andre Kenji says:

    @Tillman: Tolstoy is one of my favorite writers, but he committed Kreutzer`s Sonata. There is not only philosophical rumblings there, but there is also a large dose of misogyny.

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  11. Eric Florack says:

    @CSK: And those, interestingly, are defined by culture, not government.

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