Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Quote of the day: On what liberty is *for*

"By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he
believes his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.
Liberty and good government do not exclude each other; and there are excellent reasons
why they should go together. Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself
the highest political end. It is not for the sake of a good public administration that it is required,
but for security in the pursuit of the highest objects of civil society, and of private life."
-- Lord Acton in his "The History of Freedom in Antiquity" (1877).


[Hat tip Larry Reed]


  1. I’m not sure about the whole “doing what he believes his duty” thing. Duty is essentially a form of compulsion. It is what other people tell us is right, rather than what we have rationally decided is right. I’d be inclined to substitute something like “exercising his free will”.

    Other than that I fully agree with the quote. Promoting the liberty of individuals ought to be the first priority of government, and is government's rightful purpose.

  2. Anderson above. Duty . Isn't it here the person doing his duty within own conscience; not that imposed from outside. This is a self imposed discipline born of an individual thinking person.
    eg. I will give away a small amount of money to Nepal because of my self imposed duty.
    I didn't want to . I wanted to take a woman to a restaurant, but I took my self imposed duty as priority.

  3. But then again; the Woman rang me; she said that I said it was my duty to fulfill my promise to take her out to Greek restaurant . OK I said we do a dine and dash , I never promised the Greek I would pay him.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.