University of Leicester
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The political idea of freedom : a critical history of some post-war accounts

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:41 authored by Lisa. Barnett
This thesis presents a critical history of some recent philosophical efforts to clarify the political idea of freedom. These efforts have produced an increasingly complex and inward-looking important to step back and assess how much these analyses have achieved. This will pave the way for discussing how much can be achieved by their 'analytical' approach; an approach which entails analysing the political idea of freedom independently of a wider political theory. 'Analytical' accounts of freedom are usually presented as if they are careful and detached analyses of the concept of freedom that informs and underpins Western political thought and practice. Closer inspection, however, suggests that they are informed by a wider set of moral and metaphysical assumptions that are not always explicated and examined. As a result, these accounts turn out to be more limited and les rigorous than they first appear. In particular, they are often only relevant to a narrow set of concerns and preoccupations, and they frequently reflect the ideological preferences of the philosopher. This suggests that these accounts are far less philosophically interesting than is often supposed. This thesis executes a critique of these accounts in two ways. Firstly, it deploys a standard of philosophical adequacy to assess critically the argumentative rigour of these accounts and, secondly, it uses past conceptions of philosophy and politics to illuminate their conceptual limitations. We will find that these accounts fail to clarify a distinctively political kind of freedom because their proponents have not thought critically about the nature of their inquiry. This shortcoming will be illustrated by examining some of the most important and influential accounts of the post-war period.


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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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