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Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
and
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
, it is associated with having
free will Free will is the capacity of agents to choose between different possible courses of action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake ( ...

free will
and being without undue or unjust constraints, or
enslavement Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person (a slaver), while treated as property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved person being made ...
, and is an idea closely tied with the concept of
liberty Broadly speaking, liberty is the ability to do as one pleases, or a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant (i.e. privilege). It is a synonym for the word freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change withou ...

liberty
. A person has the freedom to do things that will not, in theory or in practice, be prevented by other forces. Outside of the human realm, freedom generally does not have this political or psychological dimension. A rusty lock might be oiled so that the key has the freedom to turn, undergrowth may be hacked away to give a newly planted sapling freedom to grow, or a mathematician may study an equation having many
degrees of freedom Degrees of Freedom (often abbreviated df or DOF) refers to the number of independent variables or parameters of a system. In various scientific fields, the word "freedom" is used to describe the limits to which physical movement or other physical ...
. In physics or engineering, the mathematical concept may also be applied to a body or system constrained by a set of equations, whose degrees of freedom describe the number of independent motions that are allowed to it. The first known written reference to freedom appears during the
Third Dynasty of Ur The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 22nd to 21st century BC ( middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians consider to h ...
(c. 2112 BC – c. 2004 BC) as
Ama-gi ''Ama-gi'' is a Sumerian language, Sumerian word written ''ama-gi4'' or ''ama-ar-gi4''. It has been translated as "freedom", as well as "manumission", "exemption from debts or obligations", and "the restoration of persons and property to their ...

Ama-gi
, in the sense of freedom from bondage or debts, and literally meant "return to mother."


Types

In political discourse,
political freedom Political freedom (also known as political autonomy or political agency) is a central concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas A mental representation (or cognitive representation), in philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch ...
is often associated with
liberty Broadly speaking, liberty is the ability to do as one pleases, or a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant (i.e. privilege). It is a synonym for the word freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change withou ...

liberty
and
autonomy In developmental psychology Developmental psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions ...

autonomy
in the sense of "giving oneself their own laws", and with having
rights Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is desc ...
and the
civil liberties Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolled bill, enrolling, enactment of a bill, enacting, or promulgation, promulgat ...
with which to exercise them without undue interference by the state. Frequently discussed kinds of political freedom include
freedom of assembly Freedom of peaceful assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action ...
,
freedom of association Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action Collective action refers to action taken together by a group of people whose goal A goal is ...
,
freedom of choice Freedom of choice describes an individual's opportunity Opportunity may refer to: Places * Opportunity, Montana, an unincorporated community, United States * Opportunity, Nebraska, an unincorporated community, United States * Opportunity, Washing ...

freedom of choice
, and
freedom of speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philoso ...

freedom of speech
. In some circumstances, particularly when discussion is limited to political freedoms, the terms "freedom" and "liberty" tend to be used interchangeably.Anna Wierzbicka, ''Understanding Cultures Through Their Key Words'' (1997), p. 130-31: "Unfortunately... the English words freedom and
liberty Broadly speaking, liberty is the ability to do as one pleases, or a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant (i.e. privilege). It is a synonym for the word freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change withou ...

liberty
are used interchangeably. This is confusing because these two do not mean the same, and in fact what saiahBerlin calls "the notion of 'negative' freedom" has become largely incorporated in the word ''freedom'', whereas the word ''liberty'' in its earlier meaning was much closer to the Latin libertas and in its current meaning reflects a different concept, which is a product of the Anglo-Saxon culture".
Elsewhere, however, subtle distinctions between freedom and liberty have been noted.Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, ''Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics'' (2008), p. 9: "Although used interchangeably, freedom and liberty have significantly different etymologies and histories. According to the ''Oxford English Dictionary'', the Old English ''frei'' (derived from Sanskrit) meant dear and described all those close or related to the head of the family (hence friends). Conversely in Latin, ''libertas'' denoted the legal state of being free versus enslaved and was later extended to children (''liberi''), meaning literally the free members of the household. Those who are one's friends are free; those who are not are slaves".
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873), usually cited as J. S. Mill, was an English philosopher, political economist, Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constitu ...
, differentiated liberty from freedom in that freedom is primarily, if not exclusively, the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; whereas liberty concerns the absence of arbitrary restraints and takes into account the rights of all involved. As such, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others.Mill, J.S. (1869)., "Chapter I: Introductory", ''On Liberty''. http://www.bartleby.com/130/1.html Wendy Hui Kyong Chun explains the differences in terms of their relation to institutions: Another distinction that some political theorists have deemed important is that people may aspire to have freedom ''from'' limiting forces (such as
freedom from fear Freedom from fear is listed as a fundamental human right Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Norm (social), normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclope ...
,
freedom from want The right to an adequate standard of living is a fundamental human rights, human right. It is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was accepted by the United Nations General Assembly, General Assembly of the United Nations on Dec ...
, and
freedom from discrimination The right to freedom from discrimination is internationally recognised as a human rights, human right and enshrines the principle of egalitarianism. The right to freedom from discrimination is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ...
), but descriptions of freedom and liberty generally do not invoke having liberty ''from'' anything. To the contrary, the concept of
negative liberty Negative liberty is freedom from interference by other people. Negative liberty is primarily concerned with freedom from external restraint and contrasts with positive liberty Positive liberty is the possession of the capacity to act upon one's ...
refers to the liberty one person may have to restrict the rights of others. Other important fields in which freedom is an issue include
economic freedom Economic freedom, or economic liberty, is the ability of people of a society to take economic actions. This is a term used in economic and policy debate Policy debate is a form of debate competition in which teams of two advocate for and again ...
,
academic freedom Academic freedom is a moral and legal concept expressing the conviction that the freedom of inquiry by faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; ...
,
intellectual freedom Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas without restriction. Viewed as an integral component of a democratic society, intellectual freedom protects an individual's right to access, explore, consider, and ...
,
scientific freedom Academic freedom is a moral and legal concept expressing the conviction that the freedom of inquiry by faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia, and that scholars should have freedom to teach ...
and
political freedom Political freedom (also known as political autonomy or political agency) is a central concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas A mental representation (or cognitive representation), in philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch ...


See also

*
Internet freedom Internet freedom is an umbrella term that encompasses digital rights Digital rights are those human rights Human rights are moral principles or normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 Decemb ...


References


External links


"Freedom"
BBC Radio 4 discussion with John Keane, Bernard Williams & Annabel Brett (''In Our Time'', 4 July 2002) {{Wikiquote, Freedom Social concepts Rights