Economic freedom

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Economic freedom is a term used in economic and policy debates. As with freedom generally, there are various definitions, but no universally accepted concept of economic freedom.[1][2] One major approach to economic freedom comes from classical liberal and libertarian traditions emphasizing free markets and private property, while another extends the welfare economics study of individual choice, with greater economic freedom coming from a "larger" (in some technical sense) set of possible choices.[3] Another more philosophical perspective emphasizes its context in distributive justice and basic freedoms of all individuals.[4] Other conceptions of economic freedom include freedom from want[1][5] and the freedom to engage in collective bargaining.[6]

The free market viewpoint understands economic liberty as the freedom to produce, trade and consume any goods and services acquired without the use of force, fraud or theft. This is embodied in the rule of law, property rights and freedom of contract, and characterized by external and internal openness of the markets, the protection of property rights and freedom of economic initiative.[3][7][8] There are several indices of economic freedom that attempt to measure free market economic freedom, and empirical studies based on these rankings have found higher living standards, economic growth, income equality, less corruption and less political violence to be correlated (not caused by [9][not in citation given]) with free markets.[10][11][12][13][14]

Contents [hide]

  • 1 Free market viewpoint
    • 1.1 Institutions of economic freedom
      • 1.1.1 Rule of law
      • 1.1.2 Private property rights
      • 1.1.3 Freedom of contract
    • 1.2 Economic and political freedom
    • 1.3 Indices of economic freedom
  • 2 Choice sets and economic freedom
    • 2.1 Positive and negative freedom
  • 3 Freedom from want
  • 4 Freedom of association and unions
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 Further reading
  • 8 External links

Political freedom

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Political freedom, or political agency, is a central concept in Western history and political thought, and one of the most important (real or ideal) features of democratic societies.[1] It has been described as a relationship free of oppression[2] or coercion;[3] the absence of disabling conditions for a particular group or individual and the fulfillment of enabling conditions;[4] or the absence of economic compulsion.[5] Although political freedom is often interpreted negatively as the freedom from unreasonable external constraints on action,[6] it can also refer to the positive exercise of rights, capacities and possibilities for action, and the exercise of social or group rights (e.g. collective bargaining).[7] The concept can also include freedom from "internal" constraints on political action or speech, such as social conformity, consistency, and "inauthentic" behaviour.[8]

The concept of political freedom is closely connected with the concepts of equality, civil liberties and human rights, which in democratic societies are usually afforded legal protection from the state. Some notable philosophers, such as Alasdair MacIntyre, have theorized freedom in terms of our social interdependence with other people.[9] According to political philosopher Nikolas Kompridis, the pursuit of freedom in the modern era can be broadly divided into two motivating ideals: freedom as autonomy, or independence; and freedom as the ability to cooperatively initiate a new beginning.[10]

Political freedom has also been theorized in opposition to power, or in terms of "power relations", by Michel Foucault.[11] It has also been closely identified with certain kinds of artistic and cultural practice by Cornelius Castoriadis, Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, Jacques Ranciere, and Theodor Adorno.