Liberty is the ability of individuals to have agency (control over their own actions). Different conceptions of liberty articulate the relationship of individuals to society in different ways—including some that relate to life under a social contract or to existence in a state of nature, and some that see the active exercise of freedom and rights as essential to liberty. Understanding liberty involves how we imagine the individual's roles and responsibilities in society in relation to concepts of free will and determinism, which involves the larger domain of metaphysics.
Individualist and classical liberal conceptions of liberty typically consist of the freedom of individuals from outside compulsion or coercion, also known as negative liberty. This conception of liberty, which coincides with the Libertarian point-of-view, suggests that people should, must, and ought to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions, while in contrast, Social liberal conceptions of (positive liberty) liberty place an emphasis upon social structure and agency and is therefore directed toward ensuring egalitarianism. In feudal societies, a "liberty" was an area of allodial land where the rights of the ruler or monarch were waived.
Famous quotes containing the word liberty:
“When liberty returns, I will return.”
—Victor Hugo (18021885)
“I cannot think of punishing him ... merely for coveting that liberty for which we have paid the price of so much blood, and have proclaimed so often to be the right, and worthy pursuit of every human being.”
—James Madison (17511836)
“Trusting as we did to the virtue of the people, the real people, not the politicians and demagogues, we passed through the most responsible and trying scenes, sustained by the bone and sinew of the nation, the laborers of the land, where alone, in these days of Bank rule, and ragocrat corruption, real virtue and love of liberty is to be found.”
—Andrew Jackson (17671845)