The graphic above was shared on Facebook today by the British Humanist Association.
Stirring and noble words from Professor Grayling, which liberty lovers must agree with, but his definition of freedom is not quite sufficient.
True, full freedom is the freedom for individuals to act as they wish to the extent that it doesn’t diminish anyone else’s freedom to do the same. Freedom cannot only consist of the actions of speech and thought because it is possible for a person locked in a cage to still be free to think and say anything. They can say and think what they want, but they cannot do what they want. That’s not freedom.
For example, to think or to say “I want to open a school that lets its students do whatever they’re interested in” is futile if one is not at liberty to acquire the resources and contract the labour to do so (i.e. if the State uses coercion to prevent one from operating such a school).
A full human existence, then, consists of the absolute freedom for individuals to act peacefully in pursuit of their own goals, which must also include the freedom to use, or to contract an agent to use, proportionate force in defence of one’s own person or property.