Jun 282011


Interesting topic. I used to think that Freedom trumps Justice, but now I think that Freedom is a part of Justice. It is upon the ground of Justice itself that Freedom rests. Freedom, therefore, must be measured against Justice to be authentic. There is no Absolute Freedom, separate from Justice. I am not free to murder you, in other words. This so-called “freedom” on my part is not authentic because it is not justified.

The Freedom vs Justice paradigm falls prey to all the old problems of dualistic thinking. You cannot separate out Freedom from Justice in the first place. To speak of Absolute Freedom as if to break it off from Justice is to make a fundamental error of abstraction. It is like dividing by zero; it is undefined; unthinkable; unreal.

What Camus seems to have in mind can be better articulated perhaps as the good of the individual vs the good of the community. In politics we see examples of this played out in taxation programs designed to give aid to the poor. Libertarians in America often argue against taxation programs from the perspective of Absolute Freedom, denying that Freedom is founded upon Justice at all. I think this is an error, as I have stated. The question remains, however, to the justice of taxation. To what extent is the state justified to redistribute the money of individuals? This is a very difficult question. I am not sure I am satisfied with any general answer. If Justice is like an equilibrium, then we must find the balance between the individual and the community such that each gains from the other. This is the closest I have come in my own thinking to understanding in general terms how freedom and justice are related.

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