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Liberal Iranian
Liberal as in Liberty and Freedom. Iranian as in Cyrus and Ferdowsi.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Freedom as the Ultimate Public Good
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Often it is argued that we need to abandon or limit some freedoms in order to secure a public good. It is argued that to achieve a publicly desirable end, it is necessary for all or a great many of the members of the society to effectively limit their choices to one of an argued nature, so that it becomes economical and be commonly used and of benefit to all.

Whereas such argumentation is not necessarily false and does indeed justify some central-planning measures it must be born in mind that it has very limited applicability. The main reason for this limited applicability is that, freedom itself is the ultimate public good. (Here it is assumed that the right to life, which is the source of all other rights, is already universally protected.) In many instances freedom of a particular kind cannot be a subject of competition since it won't be favored on an individual basis. If anyone were asked whether a particular group or individual should have certain rights, say, freedom of expressing an unpopular view, on a narrow and self-centered premise, a mojority is likely to respond negatively. Yet everyone would love to be free. Thus, freedom needs to be protected through political means for all to benefit. If an alleged public good is to be enforced through political means, it must be only to such an extent that it does not jeopardize the ultimate public good, freedom.

In view of the nature of freedom as a public good of ultimate value all other public goods that may be enforced at the expense of limiting freedoms of individuals must be politically temporary and subject to constant revision and discussion, which is, interestingly, only possible if we do our best to preserve the freedoms that guarantee the very existence and also the rationality of such discussions. 
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