Feinberg’s Theory of Freedom and Rights
The exact meaning of “freedom” is often misunderstood due to the many meanings the word has taken on. When a man was labeled “free” decades ago, it was to distinguish if you were simply talking about his legal rights or the characteristics his status. If someone tells you now-a-days that they are “free” it now poses the problem of not knowing exactly what they are free from. Is the man free from debt, from his country’s government or from his sins? We will not know until more information is given to us. We just know he is free from something that was constraining. Feinberg draws a tie between constraints and desires which lead him to the conclusion that freedom is unsatisfied when constrains stand in the way of our desires. When this happens, our reaction is frustration, which is considered unhappiness. With that idea, having freedom would conclude that the person was considered happy. This may seem far- fetched but drawn up thoroughly by Feinberg.
The idea of being happy when having freedom is board. We need to figure out what kind of freedom is being awarded. There is positive and negative freedom. But watch out, the names are misleading. Positive doesn’t always mean “great” or “pleasant” in this case and negative freedom doesn’t necessarily meaning “awful” or “appalling.” On top of “positive” and “negative” constraints being factors in the definition of a person’s freedom, we also have to look at the source of the constraint. It can either be external or internal meaning the source is coming from an outside source or within you. A great definition was stated in Feinberg’s article “If the distinction between internal and external is to be put to political use, perhaps the simplest way of making it is by means of merely spatial criterion: external constraints are those that come from outside a person’s body-cum-mind, and all other constraints.” (p.13)
With the idea of external and internal constraints brought into...
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