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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 11, 2001

Social and Political Philosophy

Wolfgang Balzer
Pages 173-178

Freedom and Equality in the Comparison of Political Systems

The notions of freedom and equality in a group are precisely defined in terms of individual exertions of influence or power. Freedom is discussed in the version ‘freedom from’ influence rather than in the version ‘freedom to do’ what one wants. It is shown that at the ideal conceptual level complete freedom implies equality. Given the plausibility of the definitions this shows that political ‘folk rhetorics’ in which freedom and equality often are put in opposition are misled and misleading. Quantitative notions of ‘more freedom’ and ‘more equality’ are introduced and shown to be independent of each other. The bearing of these conceptual exercises on the comparison of political systems is discussed.

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