"From Pericles to Measurement" by Fred McMahon (Fraser Institute)
This article traces the concept of freedom back to the classical world and examines modern discussions of freedom from the Enlightenment through to modern analytical scholarship. McMahon concludes that modern indexes are incomplete and often inconsistent. He argues for a complete measure of freedom that is consistent with the most common sense idea of freedom-Isaiah Berlin's concept of "negative" freedom, meaning the absence of restraints on individual actions.
"From Fighting the Drug War to Protecting the Right to Use Drugs" by Doug Bandow (Cato Institute)
Bandow argues that to "have meaning, liberty must protect the freedom to act in ways which may offend individuals and even majorities. So it is with 'drugs' currently banned by the U.S. and other governments." This should apply whether or not legalization produces bad results, but the author argues that a well-structured legalization will reduce harms, not increase them. More importantly, the author suggests the War on Drugs has sideswiped and reduced a range of other freedoms. For these and other reasons, the paper argues that drug use should be treated as "a protected liberty."
"A Compact Statement of a Cost-based Theory of Rights and Freedoms" by Michael A. Walker (Fraser Institute)
The author draws a distinction between two types of freedoms: those that are costless or low cost for a society to provide and those which require the expenditure of resources to provide. The first set simply requires government to refrain from acting. Costly rights include security of property and persons and some aspects of freedom of speech, the latter because government needs to actively protect those who say unpopular things.
"The idea of freedom is one of the most contested in political and philosophical discourse and one of the most vital," McMahon said.
"Our book lays the foundation for a rigorous analytical framework and measurement to improve the objective measurement of human freedom worldwide."
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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of 86 think-tanks. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org.
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The Fraser Institute
Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom
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