FREEDOM, EXTRINSIC AND INTRINSIC
Like justice, 'freedom' is something almost all people
are in favor of. Virtually every religion and political ideology
promises freedom or liberation, with or without simultaneous
equality for everyone. This is a reason to listen to any talk
about freedom or liberation with skepticism. (Even when a
religion or political ideology brought freedom in one respect,
it but too often brought a new kind of lordship or
dictatorship at the same time.) Yet, it is when freedom is
blatantly absent that one best realizes that it means something
important. This is first and foremost the case when people are
murdered, tortured, injured, raped, imprisoned or enslaved who
have not violated other people's personal rights. In one country
it may be the state or an army of occupation which commits such atrocities,
in another it may be individual citizens or groups of citizens who commit
them. Freedom is not there because the law says so; freedom is
there when the authorities respect people's rights in actual
fact and when the structure of society is such that it does not
create or perpetuate the conditions in which violence is
stimulated, provoked or even made necessary.
Freedom is often denied in the name of freedom. That is why
one theorist has argued that people should differentiate negative
and positive liberty and stick to the first form of it.
'Negative liberty' is the absence of interference or domination,
that is, the absence of interference by the state, of the
pressures of social conformism and of invasions by other
individuals. 'Positive liberty' is on this account the absence
of impediments over and above simple, deliberate coercion. It is
said to derive from 'the wish on the part of the individual to be
'er own master'. This
notion of positive liberty has proved
to be highly prone to abuse in the hands of those who conceive
of self-mastery as mastery of some 'higher' or 'real' self over
some 'lower' or 'animal' self. The higher or real self is then
the sort of self which best suits the ideals or aspirations of
certain 'liberators' who are but too willing to arrogate all
power and influence unto themselves, especially in the name of
a god or a political party.
It has been objected that the above-mentioned division
between 'negative' and 'positive liberty' does only count as
interference direct, physical obstruction and neglects the form
of domination exercised by withholding the means of life or
labor from people. The alternative division proposed is one
between counterextractive and developmental liberty. Counterextractive
liberty is defined as immunity from the extractive
power of others and is a wider notion than negative liberty.
Developmental liberty, on the other hand, is narrower than
positive liberty and is said to denote 'individual
self-direction' and 'the ability to live in accordance with one's own
conscious purposes'. It is clearly not meant to denote coercion
of 'those who do not (yet) know the truth' by 'those who say
that they know it'.
In terms of
doctrinal considerations both
the division between 'negative' and 'positive', and the one between
'counterextractive' and 'developmental liberty' are faulty or
too vague. Roughly speaking, negative and counterextractive
liberty deal implicitly with
the right to personhood. Negative
liberty underscores the aspect of freedom in the mere sense of
personal and bodily autonomy, whereas counterextractive liberty
focuses on the property aspect inherent in the right to
personhood, not only where it concerns the person's body, but
also where it concerns external things. Again roughly speaking,
positive and developmental liberty deal with doctrinal rights
However, the so-called 'ability to live in accordance with one's own
conscious purposes' is, of course, first of all a metadoctrinally required
It is additional demands which make it more and more doctrinal.
To the extent that it is
metadoctrinal, that is extrinsic, we ought to support this
ideal; to the extent that it is supposed to be doctrinal, that
is intrinsic, it depends on the person's ends whether we ought
to support it or not. To live in accordance with one's own,
individual purposes (whatever these purposes may be) is
nothing intrinsically good in itself.
What it all hinges upon is the distinction between extrinsic
and intrinsic freedom or liberty. 'Extrinsic liberty' is the
the active, discretionary right to personhood
and closely related to the notions of negative and counterextractive
liberty. But this proposition cannot be reversed: the notion of
the right to personhood is not merely a notion of extrinsic
liberty, it is as much a notion of extrinsic property (a notion
to be discussed in 4.4.5). 'Intrinsic liberty'
is liberty on the principles of
the DNI, that is,
liberty as warranted, or insofar as warranted, from the perspective of
truth. It is a form of
'positive' and 'developmental liberty' when the person or persons
concerned have the freedom to do what is best for their own well-being
without violating anyone's rights and without doing more harm than good
on the whole.
Metadoctrinally, liberty must be defended; doctrinally, it
can be defended, not only on the basis of people's well-being
but also on the basis of the minimization of unhappiness,
on the basis of interpersonal equality and on the basis of
But each time it is a particular type of liberty which is justifed then.
For example, (positive) liberty has also been interpreted as the
greatest number of options available.
Such a conception of liberty is
extremist and such a form of
liberty not a perfective value to be strived for on the neutralistic model.
Ultimately, there is nothing intrinsically good in a great
number of available options, let alone something better in a
number which is even greater, and that ad infinitum. If and when
the freedom of a great number of available options is good, this
is only so for instrumental reasons.
The right to personhood teaches us that we have a certain
freedom, an extrinsic freedom to be precise. The DNI teaches us
what we should do or not do with this freedom. This does only
partially confirm our freedom, for in a way every sensible,
doctrinal principle solely restrains people's extrinsic freedom.
For example, the principle of truth does in the first instance
nothing else than this: instead of telling the truth and lying
as we please, we must now always tell the truth. Whereas we had
(and still have) the extrinsic freedom to lie, we do not have
the intrinsic freedom anymore to do so. Only indirectly could
it be argued that all of us eventually will have more freedom
on the whole by not lying. For the agent who is to act morally
it is the very essence of the normative to limit the number of
physical or metaphysical options open to
'im. With morality the
number of options an individual decision maker has is smaller
this may only hold so long as enough other people lead moral lives).
Therefore morality itself contravenes '(total) freedom' in a normative
It does not contravene 'freedom' in a social or legal sense, however,
because that kind of freedom does not interfere with it.
This is not to say, of course, that a lack of social or legal freedom
could not interfere with what one ought to do or refrain from doing in