Dissertation, London School of Economics (2021)

Nicolas Cote
Cambridge University
This thesis concerns the measurement of freedom, and its value. Specifically, I am concerned with three overarching questions. First, can we measure the extent of an individual’s freedom? It had better be that we can, otherwise much ordinary and intuitive talk that we would like to vindicate – say, about free persons being freer than slaves – will turn out to be false or meaningless. Second, in what ways is freedom valuable, and how is this value measured? It matters, for example, whether freedom is valuable only insofar as it enables us to pursue specific ends we happen to value for independent reasons, or whether it is also valuable in itself. In the latter case, but not the former, more freedom will always be better. Likewise, it’s important to get clarity on what ends, exactly, freedom is especially instrumentally valuable in promoting, since this goes to how much we should care about it. And finally, the liberal political tradition asserts that there is a special sphere of personal choices within which individuals should be free to do as they please, for reasons over and above the value of freedom itself. Now, can we measure the extent to which states and individuals respect individual liberties, and can we weigh the importance of respecting liberty against competing values like social welfare? To answer these questions, I follow the axiomatic tradition of social choice theory, and I develop several novel measures of freedom – including the first measure of freedom ever proposed that is sensitive to how modally robustly our options are available – a novel approach to measuring the diversity of an opportunity set, and I develop an account of the value of freedom according to which an important part of why freedom matters is that it enables us to improve our preferences through learning, and I construct ways of measuring the value of freedom along this dimension of value. Finally, in later chapters, I provide a representation result for a measure of illiberalism, i.e. of the degree to which states fail to respect the rights of their citizens, and I extend this result to provide a characterization of moral theories that express concern for respecting the rights of others. The final chapter closes by discussing how this concern may be weighed against concerns for social welfare.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,916
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - London, England: Dover Publications.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Harmondsworth, Penguin.
The Foundations of Statistics.Leonard J. Savage - 1954 - Wiley Publications in Statistics.

View all 122 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Measures of Freedom of Choice.Karin Enflo - 2012 - Dissertation, Uppsala University
Measuring Specific Freedom.Matthew Braham - 2006 - Economics and Philosophy 22 (3):317-333.
Spatial Degrees of Freedom in Everett Quantum Mechanics.Mark A. Rubin - 2006 - Foundations of Physics 36 (8):1115-1159.
Measuring Political Freedom.Meghnad Desai - 1995 - In E. Barker (ed.), Lse on Freedom. Lse Books. pp. 195.
The Problem of Freedom.Mary T. Clark (ed.) - 1973 - New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Freedom and Desire.Richard J. Arneson - 1985 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 15 (3):425 - 448.
A Measure of Freedom.Ian Carter (ed.) - 1999 - Oxford University Press UK.
Measure of Freedom.Ian Carter - 2004 - Oxford University Press UK.
A Measure of Freedom.Ian Carter (ed.) - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
Measuring Opportunity.Karin Enflo - 2011 - In Rysiek Sliwinski & Frans Svensson (eds.), Neither/Nor. Uppsala university. pp. 53-68.
What Freedom Is.Wells Earl Draughon - 2003 - Writer's Showcase.


Added to PP index

Total views
10 ( #895,712 of 2,497,979 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #73,153 of 2,497,979 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes