Personal freedom

The personal freedom notion has changed vastly over the years from the harm principle to the notion of basic rights. Cobley suggest that in this day and age, these principles will not allow us to have maximum freedom. On the other hand, suggest that only by giving up all our freedom to the government, then we can maximize our freedom. I am largely convinced by his reasons why total freedom should be given to the government as the democratic government has proven to be able to fully optimize the freedom of our society. From paragraph 5 in line 58-61, Cobley suggest ‘ ill-health ignorance…factors’ are the factors preventing equality and liberty. He believes that ‘fraternity’ will help to reconcile both factors and eventually allow liberty. This is because these factors allow the clever and the strong to gain unfair advantages. And only by caring for each other, these unfair advantages will be shared equally, and hence allow equal opportunities for all. By allowing equal opportunities for all, this allows the people to have freedom to compete equally. I am largely not convinced by his view of freedom, as it is an ideal state and not practical. In order to get the general rich population to share their advantage to the disadvantage is improbable and far from practical. This is because men are generally selfish and to care for complete strangers is not common in society.

This point can be further strengthening by numerous examples of the stronger and smarter – not caring- but exploiting the poor. For example, many years back in Singapore, it was revealed that the chief executive officer of NKF – a charity fund – misused the finds of the charity to fund his luxurious lifestyle. This goes to show that the rich in general are unlikely candidates to show their care and concern for the poor. I however feel this responsibility should be given to the government through means such as heavy taxes onto the rich. I feel that this is the only way to ensure freedom to have equal opportunities for both the poor and rich. Therefore I believe we should surrender our claims to freedom to the government so that they can help re-distribute this income and ensure freedom is maximized. Hence, I disagree with the author’s view that by getting the rich to show concern to the poor ensures freedom as this is not practical and merely ideal. In paragraph 3 Cobley discussed that freedom should be surrendered to the government if the laws passed down are deemed as ‘acceptable’ and not to ‘override certain basic freedom’.

For example, basic rights such as the right to live or worship. Cobley at the end of the passage however expresses his view that he is not in favor of it. I am too largely in agreement with his view because these basic rights are hard to define. Everyone have their own view of a ‘basic’ right and this often stems from religious beliefs. This would make it very hard for the government to decide on something common as there would bound to be people unsatisfied. For example, Singapore recently passed down a censorship law on websites with high viewership. Their rationale to it was that they feel these websites should be socially responsible to the public. Hence information should be censored. However others argue that these laws infringe the basic right to freedom of speech – therefore causing unhappiness to these people. Henceforth I feel that freedom should be fully surrendered to the government as to have ‘basic rights’ is impossible to define due to the various views of a basic right. Thus it is beneficial to me to give full autonomy of freedom to the government. In paragraph 6, Cobley feels that he should ‘surrender my so-called liberty…to its laws and restrictions.

Cobley feels that all his freedom should be given to the government to control and restrict. He further adds on that ‘any division into…wrong.’ Thus, further strengthening his viewpoint that more should be done to give our ‘freedom’ to the government. I am largely in agreement with his view because I feel the democratically chosen state is best able to represent the people. This is because the government best represent the majority, and being the one ‘in-charge’ of the state they are also able to see the country in a macro perspective. Thus, making them capable of making decisions to ensure that both short-term and long-term the country benefits overall. In addition if we continue to erect barriers, we can see the society being more dis-united and having more of our freedom restricted.

For example, we can see in Russia – where drinking is a problem – roads are becoming unsafe and the freedom of innocent passer-bys are compromised just so as to give the Russians ‘freedom to drink’. If more was done to curb drinking, this can result in not only the lives of these passer-bys to have more freedom but also the families of these drinkers. Not only would theses families have more disposable income – freedom to spend – but also potentially more freedom of safety from these drunkards. Thus, this clearly shows how we should give full freedom to the government so that we would have more freedom as the government is better able to assess the situation. Henceforth, it is only beneficial to me that total freedom is given to the government. In conclusion, I agree with the author that e should give all claims to individual freedom to the government.

What do you think?

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