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Demosthenes's avatar

Does freedom come with responsibility?

Asked by Demosthenes (12763points) May 4th, 2020

I’m seeing “freedom” being used so often as a defense of bad behavior. How do you personally view “freedom”?

I know this sounds like a bad high school English class question, but I’m genuinely interested. Especially in regard to the recent protests we’ve been seeing and how Americans are accustomed to a life of “freedom” and how that interacts with public safety.

We have an idea in this country, expressed in a Ben Franklin quote, that to give up any freedom, even temporarily, for any other cause is anathema; it makes you undeserving of that freedom. Is it ever valid to question this idea?

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21 Answers

ucme's avatar

Absolutely it does.
Freedom also comes with the knowledge, common sense & good grace to use it properly.
These knuckleheaded, arsewipes protesting their rights to this that & the other…kick em in the nuts!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

You don’t question an axiom/truism.
What is really being discussed when speaking of freedoms/liberties are individual rights.
Individual rights pre-exist government & are therefore inviolate.
A right; an action which requires no sanction.
One must be free to protect and defend one’s individual rights.

ragingloli's avatar

Freedom also has limits. Mainly the point where you infringe on someone else’s rights.
There is no freedom to murder, because that infringes on your victim’s right to life.
What the knuckleheads protesting right now are too dense to understand, is that by insisting on going out during a pandemic, with the “justification” that they are willing to take the risk of becoming sick and die, is that they will likely become carriers infecting others, thusly putting everyone else at risk.

josie's avatar

Yes. That is why freedom and anarchy are not the same thing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course it does. A kid turns 18, he has freedom…but he also has responsibilities that he didn’t have before because of it.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Yes it does. Maintaining it is one of them. Some of the things being protested are completely justified but most of this is not and is idiotic. The context is very important.

kritiper's avatar

Yes it does. Freedom is never a given like an act of nature is.

seawulf575's avatar

Freedom most definitely requires responsibility. Our rights come with responsibility. And here’s the kicker…it all comes with accountability. You have freedom to say whatever you like, pretty much wherever you like. However, there are consequences sometimes. For instance, shouting “FIRE” in a movie theater can get you arrested and you could be held civilly liable if someone got injured trying to get out. You are responsible for using your freedoms properly and not abusing them. But you could be accountable for consequences if you use them improperly.

Zaku's avatar

I’d rather say that responsibility doesn’t vanish in the presence of freedom.

It seems to me that “freedom comes with responsibility” sounds like the speaker has some unspoken ideas in mind, and may be about to lead to some some arguments hoping to leverage the right-sounding-ness of having said that freedom comes with responsibility.

I would reserve the right to assess the rightness of what the person says next without letting them use that line to push their argument farther than it deserves to go.

seawulf575's avatar

@zaku Responsibility doesn’t vanish in the presence of freedom is fair enough. My point is that freedom requires responsibility to keep it going.

Zaku's avatar

Mhmm… looked at from somewhere near that perspective, when some people use their freedom in ways that impact others, that can restrict others…

… and it’s not like “freedom” is the only important quality of life.

To me, the obvious and most large-scale, most destructive, and most important abuse of “freedom” in modern society is industrial exploitation and mega-corporate attempts to own everything they can as if “economic growth” and “shareholder value” combined with “freedom” and “corporate personhood” gave them a divine right to financially and legally conquer the world.

e.g. If someone uses their freedom to eat all the strawberries, or worse, to take and claim all the strawberries, and the plants, that screws everyone else.

And, it escalates a race for conquest.

So I’d say that not just responsibility, but consideration for others, including the well-being non-humans and their habitats, is required to sustain not just the freedom but the well-being and ultimately, the survival, of everyone.

seawulf575's avatar

I agree that Freedom is not the only important quality of life. That would fall to Love, I believe. But we are starting to get off the topic a little. The qualities that are important to peace and tranquility, as I see it, are the 7 heavenly virtues (the opposite side of the coin of the 7 deadly sins). Those would be Charity, Chastity (not entirely what you think), Diligence, Humility, Kindness, Patience, and Temperance. But if you look at what all those are doing if you work towards them, you realize they are opening you up to love others. When there is love guiding you, you would gladly share the strawberries. You could own a business and still provide for workers as well as growing the company (those do go hand-in-hand to a point). And Freedom is the tool we use to allow us to do these things. It is responsibility to use that freedom correctly that drives us in the right direction.

Zaku's avatar

Wow, @seawulf575 , that’s a really lovely and eloquent post that I actually quite agree with.

josie's avatar

You may be one of about four people on this site who has figured out what it is all about.
Keep it up.
Don’t bother waiting for it to kick in with the rest. It won’t.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What are you talking about @josie? Everyone agrees that with freedom comes responsibility. I don’t see one person here who doesn’t agree with that.

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seawulf575's avatar

Thanks, @Zaku and @josie. Sometimes I stumble across just the right words.

Demosthenes's avatar

It is responsibility to use that freedom correctly that drives us in the right direction.

I think so too. I also think many people are misusing their freedom or think that personal “freedom” explains their disregard for others. “Freedom” is not synonymous with “selfishness”, but some people sure seem to conflate the two.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes And that is why responsibility needs to drive the freedom. People absolutely have the freedom to be dicks. The responsible people try not to achieve that status.

Zaku's avatar

Some people are not organized such that they would need to invoke “responsibility” to not mess with other people.

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