Just freedom? Philip Pettit: just freedom: a moral compass for a complex world. Norton Books, New York, 2014, 288 pp

S.R. Nyholm

Research output: Contribution to journalBook reviewAcademic

Abstract

In Just Freedom, Pettit presents a powerful new statement and defense of the traditional “republican” conception of liberty or freedom. And he claims that freedom can serve as an ecumenical value with broad appeal, which we can put at the basis of a distinctively republican theory of justice. That is, Pettit argues that this “conception of freedom as non-domination allows us to see all issues of justice as issues, ultimately, of what freedom demands.” It is not, however, clear that liberty is the only value that Pettit (a) actually appeals to and (b) should be appealing to. He seems to be as much a defender of relational equality and legal dignity as he is a defender of liberty. And he must either (it seems) make the implausible claim that the basic requirements of justice only apply to able-minded adults, or else admit that justice at bottom consists in something wider than just securing liberty as non-domination for all able-minded adults. For by his own admission, Pettit’s theory of justice as republican freedom “ignores issues of justice in relation to children and the intellectually disabled.” It would be better to say, therefore, that the promotion of freedom as non-domination constitutes one, but not the only, requirement of justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441–445
Number of pages4
JournalRes Publica
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

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