Monday, November 02, 2015

The freedom to thrive, not merely to be, AND a fun-tastic analysis of freedom in marriage

"Negative liberty is the freedom from interference by other people.  FREEDOM FROM..."
"Positive liberty is the possession of the power and resources to fulfill one's own potential.  FREEDOM TO..." 
Wikipedia / Google

States do both of these things:
1. help secure my negative freedom, for example by deterring rapists, robbers, and assassins from attacking me
2. reduce my positive freedom, with laws, laws, laws.  This is forbidden, that is required, and the other is punishable by imprisonment. 
This bargain I accept to some extent, realizing that nothing good comes free.
Not only states, but other authorities have dual impacts on my freedom. 
For example:
Positive liberty postponed: School would sometimes give you future power in the form of knowledge in exchange for current boredom - restricted movement, restricted course choices, restricted hobbies/activites. 
Negative liberty sacrificed: As a public figure, like a politician or a celebrity, strange people lay selfish claims to your time and personal space.  You have to care or pretend to care about trivial things, pick up the phone, sign an autograph, endure gossip and slander.  In exchange, you gain power. 

Positive freedom is the freedom to thrive, not merely to be!  (Poetic, huh?)
(Because the instruction says feel free to be creative with this post,) here's one more example:  

Marriage can increase freedom in many ways:
- by providing food, home, peace, caring, and money, one feels "settled down" and no longer buffeted by a harsh world.  In fact, mapping out one's own home-territory is the ultimate in negative freedom  
- by supporting each individual's activities towards achieving life's potential
- by creating opportunities for collaboration between the married people, including the making of children, but also other social, spiritual, economic, and creative collaboration.  
But marriage can take back what it gives:
- it is a possessive relationship in which people lay claim to each other - MY husband, MY wife , for LIFE !
- it may feel like unpaid labour and slavery for one or more parties (excessive cooking and housework, excessive scolding and abuse, excessive financial or other demands),
- it may restrict activities that can be carried on while married (cultural need to spend inordinate amounts of time together, less interaction with other people, can't learn new things and can't change freely without considering the effect on spouse, can't move to a new country without carrying family along, in some cultures you can't marry other people, in some others you can't freely befriend or relate with other people)
- it may take away your food (half if you share one income and are poor, more when you have children), home (when you lose it in a divorce), peace (when you fight), health (the stress of living with someone you can't stand, the sharing of diseases ), caring (jealousy makes your closest partner your deadliest foe) and/or money (costly marriage ceremony, large expenses in marriage, costly divorce proceedings)

Conclusion: choose wisely, and good luck ;) 

Note: I wrote this for a quick assignment in Alexander Guerrero's Coursera + U.Penn. Legal and Political Philosophy course.  Coursera can be so much fun!  (And loads of work.)

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t said...

Could it be that I'm obsessed with food? Or just mis-typing / mis-spelling the general "good", as in "utility"?

The FREEDOM TO THRIVE piece was assignment three, but here's what I did for assignment 1 - I somehow managed to mention food there as well:

Justice is natural to the State; happiness is not.

While it is quite reasonable to expect the State, in its superior form, to promote justice, equality, and possibly freedom, I do not think the State is well suited to the promotion of happiness.

Who could have been happier than the prehistoric human living in Adam-and-Eve simplicity? If one wanted food 1,000 or 10,000 years ago, he/she simply plucked or trapped it, and ate it fresh. There was more than enough of all that this person needed, and then sleep, play, and relationship naturally wove its way into the lifestyles of our ancestors. If a person died, say in an accident or a squabble, then he was dead, and neither felt happy nor unhappy. Consider that our displeasure with death in the 21st century is only possible because such death is contrary to our high expectations e.g. for long life, good health, physical security...

Happiness lies in the realm of the emotions, evolved over millions of years and embedded in our natural and biological functions. Happiness is not directly improved by the infrastructure of the State, as the state is too young and foolish by comparison.

On the other hand, a good state is a problem-solver. It is more rational than emotional, more constructive than intuitive. It is like an engineering control system for a society. In the context of a state, we define legal concepts like justice, and then in the context of a state, we attempt to execute what we have outlined. To the extent that we diligently implement the state's objectives, we can, and generally do, achieve such justice.

Summary: We should have a state in order to promote justice, but we should not expect a state to be very good at promoting happiness. "

t said...

Assignment Two, can't find any mention of FOOD here ;)

In this assignment, please do the three following things in a 250-750 word response:

(a) Identify and explain one answer in Unit 3 to the question of why we should have a State (pick one that you find troubling).

(b) Raise an objection or concern about that answer (pick the one that you find most compelling).

(c) Identify and explain which of the justice-related answers in Unit 3 you find most persuasive, and why

To secure justice, spread the goodies far and wide.

I love the justice-related justifications for the existence of the State.

For example Rawls espouses "justice as fairness" and uses the following thought experiment: how would you design society and laws if you could be anybody in that society after designing it? This would ensure that we wouldn't take from the weakest, poorest, or unhappiest, as their interests would also have been taken into account in designing the law.

Bentham's utilitarian theory enjoins us to maximize the aggregate of good, or happiness, or utility, in the society. In this model, sometimes the additional good that might be gained by one section in society is sacrificed to create bigger good altogether. I find this theory the most persuasive for a few reasons. 1. The good of my neighbour affects me positively, it becomes a good for me. 2. My excessive good relative to my neighbour affects me negatively, for instance, they become jealous, or I can't get collaborators. 3. It maximises my good (1), while minimizing inequality (2). 4. It is a flexible theory, and can be expanded to greater and greater circles of good as the consciousness (to see how far we can extend our caring) and capability (to embrace and care) of people/States/government increase.

Nussbaum and Sen's capabilities theories seem to me very compassionate. They must have been inspired by being in traditional lower classes - Nussbaum is a woman, and Sen from a poor post-colonial country. Their theories would inspire the most powerful to expand the circle of good farther and farther until every person (and even non-human living things) is allotted those goods that they need for human dignity. Nussbaum said that her theory remains open to critique - and I agree.

Nozick's entitlement theory focuses on property (holdings), stating that if a thing was initially acquired justly, and if a thing was at every transfer transferred justly, then - what's the problem? - there is justice. My first critique of Nozick follows Nyerere and others who do not focus on property holding - if everyone would use the very little that he/she needs, there truly would be enough for everybody. My second critique is that assume an unfairness has been found, for which he proposes a rectification of injustice, well, HOW do you rectify injustice with fairness? If an injustice is 1,000 years old and that long, what is the remedy? If an injustice has taken a life or a thousand lives, what can be done? For the sake of peace, we may not want to keep all these accounts. We may not have the capacity to keep all these accounts.

I've been watching these philosophy videos for over a week now, then this morning did all the quizzes and wrote all the essays in Part 1, so now I'll hurry on to part 2. The assessments are very well planned and prepared - J'adore.

It's time to eat. Probably why I kept writing about food ;)

t said...

spotting errors:
"rectify injustice with fairness" nah, "rectify injustice in a fair way" maybe, or "rectify injustice to achieve fairness" , or just simply "rectify injustice."

off to eat.
in reheated rice and stew and suya.

t said...

This is funny and embarrassing. On that third essay (the Freedom one), it looks like I didn't read the question right. It asked for one thing, with the distinction between Positive and Negative Freedom just being a subsection of a list of suggested supplemental topics i.e. in addition to the main topic. I thought it was a list of suggested topics to choose from and chose that one. So I'd actually thought my classmates essays were off-point when it was me that hadn't seen the full question.
I would guess that the question was changed after I submitted (because the course is new etc etc), but hey, it could really be that i failed to read the whole thing, was tired after how many hours straight, or what. I just can't imagine it was there...
To rewrite LATER.

Erik Donald France said...

Or: choose widely, and good luck ~ ~ !

t said...

choose widely means...
many? or something even more fun?

mlg said...

Spring onions? You are OYO o :-)

t said...

you don't like spring onions?

t said...

It's been hard finding the time to re-do that just one essay, then to finish part two with its maybe 24 hours worth of video-watching and new essays of its own. But I continue in the faith that all this, this Coursera addiction of mine, is changing my life and our world. I believe.

t said...

Nothing to be embarrassed about, and my error rate is still low (no Alzheimer's, Bro). The question was truncated, the error is still there, and now that I just rewrote the little essay (to be honest, I just added a paragraph and cut out the marriage half) and graded some more colleagues' essays, I see that other people fell into the same trap. I gave them full marks, because not their fault that the question isn't consistent, and I AGAIN put up comments asking the admin to fix it.

Looks like I took a bit of a Coursera break. Looks like I'm back on my beat now.