Meaning of Freedom - encyclopedia - 2023



What is the Liberty:

Freedom is the faculty or capacity of the human being to act according to their values, criteria, reason and will, with no limitations other than respect for the freedom of others.

There is freedom when people can act without coercion and oppression by other subjects. Therefore, it is said that an individual is at liberty or acts at liberty when he is not in the condition of a prisoner, subject to the orders of others or under duress.

Freedom carries with it a sense of individual and social responsibility. Therefore, there is a relationship between freedom and ethics, since acting in freedom is not being carried away by impulses, but acting conscientiously for one's own and common good.

Freedom is a concept built by society to achieve a full and constructive coexistence. In this sense, it is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The word freedom is also used to refer to the power that citizens have to act according to their will and interests within the framework of the law.

The word derives from Latin free Y libertātis, which means "one who is legally and politically free." Formerly, the term alluded to those who were born free or who had obtained freedom, after being born under slavery or vassalage.

Characteristics of freedom

  • Opposes oppression: freedom is characterized by opposing the systems of oppression created by human beings to control and instrumentalize their equals. It opposes slavery, forced servitude, coercion, manipulation, blackmail, threat, and constant surveillance.
  • It implies self-determination: freedom implies the right to decide for yourself about your interests, beliefs, opinions and actions.
  • It is a human right: Freedom is defended as a fundamental human right to the extent that respecting it is a guarantee of peace, the common good, and individual and social progress.
  • It is an act of responsibility: the free person is responsible for his own acts and needs, but also for the consequences of his actions before society.
  • Is a value: as a value, the ideal of freedom guides human actions towards dialogue, understanding, respect and tolerance. Freedom inspires the construction of a model of open and democratic society, which aspires to peace.
  • It has limits: The freedom of one person finds its limits in the right to freedom of others. The exercise of freedom does not exempt us from the obligation to attend to our basic needs.
  • It requires having good information: a good exercise of freedom is to have all the necessary information at hand to make the best choices. The more informed the person is, the more elements they have to evaluate decision making.

Types of freedom

Freedom of worship or religious freedom

Freedom of worship or religious freedom refers to the right to choose a religious belief system and manifest it without punishment, threat or coercion. It includes the freedom to declare yourself an atheist.

For example, freely choosing to be Christian or Muslim; keep the holy holidays without penalty; live according to the rules of one's religion as long as they do not lack the common good, etc.

Freedom of worship is also established in article 18 of the Declaration of Human Rights. In each country there is legislation that establishes how its expression is allowed or limited.

See also: Freedom of worship

Freedom of expression or opinion

Freedom of expression consists of the right to express ideas, opinions and feelings within the norms of respect and healthy coexistence. It is enshrined in article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights.

Some examples of freedom of expression are the publication of literary works, participation in public debates, and freedom of the press.

Every country has laws that regulate freedom of expression. This involves certain limits, especially with regard to the media and its social responsibility.

For example, laws regulate freedom of expression by prohibiting advocacy of violence or incitement to hatred, which is penalized by law.

See also: Freedom of expression

Freedom of the press

Freedom of the press enshrines the right of the media to disseminate timely and truthful information to the population without the censorship of the State or other factors of power. Freedom of the press is a concrete form of freedom of expression.

Freedom of the press must be constantly defended, since it is threatened by both the political powers and the economic powers that use sponsorship as a coercion factor.

An example of freedom of the press is the writing and publication of controversial news, editorials and opinion articles.

See also: Freedom of the press

Freedom of thought

Freedom of thought refers to the free exercise of reflection, conscience, and belief system. It also includes the freedom to express them publicly and privately without penalty. For example, expressing a political opinion contrary to that of a colleague or group with full confidence.

Political freedom

Everyone has the right to participate in political activity in their country. This right can be exercised directly (as a public official) and indirectly (through universal, free and secret vote).

This right is enshrined in article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, political freedom does not exist in countries that sustain authoritarian and anti-democratic regimes of different kinds.

Freedom of choice

Freedom of choice refers to the right to choose between various options without coercion from the authorities, other entities or individuals. For example:

  • freely choose a partner to form a family (article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights);
  • choose work according to one's interests and vocation (article 23, numeral 1, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights);
  • choose the type of education of the children (article 26, numeral 3, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

Freedom of association

Freedom of association refers to the right of assembly and association between people in order to develop economic, political, civic, cultural or other activities, provided they are peaceful. It is enshrined in article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For example, unions, civil associations for profit or not, formation of political parties, etc.

Freedom of association includes the right not to belong to any association.

Freedom of transit

Freedom of transit or movement refers to the right to move from one territory to another. It includes the right to cross international borders and to return to one's own country, as long as international standards are observed.

Freedom of movement is enshrined in article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Economic freedom

Economic freedom establishes the right of individuals to work, invest, profit and manage their assets according to their interests, without prejudice to the rights of others. For example, freedom to create companies.

Financial Freedom

Financial freedom refers to the lifestyle that results from earning recurring income (also called passive or residual income), rather than living on salary or fee income (linear income).

This implies absolute independence in the management of personal time. An example of financial freedom is living off the performance of a company's stock or collecting royalties.

This sense of freedom is very restricted, since it is limited to mere labor independence and, in practice, it is not generalizable to all human beings.

The concept also involves some controversy. For example, that an individual enjoys financial freedom implies that other people work to produce the wealth that sustains him. Therefore, financial freedom does not qualify as a human right.

Absolute freedom

Absolute freedom is understood as the total and complete independence of determinations external to the individual, such as need, established norms, or even interpersonal relationships.

As such, the concept of absolute freedom is utopian. This means that it is an idealization of the concept of freedom. The idea of ​​absolute freedom is not supported by reality, since it does not recognize the nature of the human condition, always subject to environmental, biological and social conditions.

The value of freedom

The value of freedom lies in the fact that, thanks to it, we can express our ideas and opinions in public, have the education we want or follow the beliefs with which we identify, to name a few examples. Without freedom, none of these things would be possible.

But there is no absolute freedom. We exercise freedom always taking into account other values ​​that are also important for living in society, such as respect and responsibility.

Freedom and respect

Our freedom cannot override the freedom of others. Therefore, respect for the opinions and beliefs of other people is essential when practicing our freedom.

For example, we have the freedom to be atheists, but that does not mean despising those who follow a religion, or preventing other people from practicing their cults.

Freedom and responsibility

Having freedom also means using it responsibly. Freedom does not consist in doing what we want, but in choosing reasonable and responsible actions in the face of the consequences they have for ourselves and for others. Freedom without responsibility is debauchery.

For example, we can understand that we have the freedom to come to a class at any time we want. But the truth is that classes are scheduled in advance so that everyone can attend. Being late affects our personal performance, makes us look irresponsible and causes distraction in colleagues. Attending at the appointed time is an act of responsible freedom, as it ensures everyone the right to quality education.

Why is freedom a right?

The Liberty is a right. It was recognized by the international community in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in Paris shortly after World War II. It has its antecedents in the French Revolution of 1789, and in the processes of abolition of slavery, developed from the 18th century to the end of the 19th century.

Freedom is enshrined as a human right to protect it. Although all human beings are born free and equal, endowed with conscience and subject to fraternization, there have always been situations that endanger our freedom.

Dictatorial governments or modern forms of slavery are some of the threats to freedom that we currently face in different parts of the world.

Others are derived from the right to freedom, such as the right to education, family, association and choice, and these are essential for social development and personal and collective well-being.

See also:

  • Responsibility
  • Debauchery

Freedom and ethics

Ethics and freedom are closely related. The function of ethics is precisely to lead the human being towards happiness and freedom, through the conscious practice of the Good and personal and social responsibility.

Ethics lies in seeking the highest possible good, even when it sometimes challenges the norms or laws imposed by tradition in society. Thus, putting the good before blind obedience requires the exercise of freedom of conscience, since it carries a great responsibility.

It may interest you:

  • Ethics
  • Values
  • Famous phrases that define the concept of freedom