Power and freedom: Reflecting on the relationship

This article contributes to the debate on the relationship between power and freedom. Freedom is currently a burning issue in political discourses. It is therefore important to evaluate the relationship between these two important concepts and present a basis for further critique and cognition about...

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Published in: Koers (Potchefstroom, South Africa) Vol. 86; no. 1
Main Author: Zaaiman, Johan
Format: Journal Article
Language: English
Published: 06-09-2021
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Summary: This article contributes to the debate on the relationship between power and freedom. Freedom is currently a burning issue in political discourses. It is therefore important to evaluate the relationship between these two important concepts and present a basis for further critique and cognition about this relationship. The article briefly evaluates certain philosophical perspectives in this regard; particularly the theoretical contributions of Oppenheim, Pettit, Kristjánsson and Morriss. By reflecting on these perspectives it is concluded that human beings’ rational capacities present them with the opportunity to imagine freedom. However the option of freedom to choose one’s own preferences is constrained by a social contract that guarantees and limits freedom. In contrast, power could interfere with freedom by eliminating specific actions or frustrating others from choosing actions or by not suppressing obstacles in this regard. The protection of freedom lies therefore in continuous negotiation, open dialogue and struggle for it. Key concepts: Power; freedom; definition; concept; liberalism; unfreedom Opsomming Mag en invloed: Besinning oor die verhouding Hierdie artikel dra by tot die debat oor die verhouding tussen mag en vryheid. Vryheid is tans ‘n brandende saak in politieke diskoerse. Dit is dus belangrik om die verhouding tussen hierdie twee belangrike konsepte te evalueer en ‘n basis te bied vir verdere kritiek en nadenke oor hierdie verhouding. Die artikel evalueer kortliks enkele filosofiese perspektiewe in hierdie verband, en spesifiek die teoretiese bydraes van Oppenheim, Pettit, Kristjánsson en Morriss. In ‘n besinning oor hierdie perspektiewe word die gevolgtrekking gemaak dat mense se rasionele vermoëns hulle kans gee om vryheid te verbeeld. Hierdie opsie van vryheid om eie voorkeure te kies, word egter beperk deur ‘n sosiale kontrak wat vryheid waarborg maar ook beperk. In teenstelling hiermee sou mag wel vryheid kon belemmer deur spesifieke aksies uit te skakel of mense se keuses vir spesifieke aksies te frustreer, of deur nie hindernisse in hierdie verband te onderdruk nie. Die beskerming van vryheid setel dus in voortdurende onderhandeling, oop dialoog en die stryd daarom. Kernbegrippe: Mag; vryheid; definisie; konsep; liberalisme; onvryheid.
ISSN: 0023-270X
2304-8557
DOI: 10.19108/KOERS.86.1.2472