Front Page Titles (by Subject) Liberty and Its Components - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3
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Liberty and Its Components - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Liberty and Its Components
“Liberty: A Proposed Analysis.” Social Theory and Practice 5 (Fall 1978) 29–44.
In 1955, Harvard scholar Lon L. Fuller observed that “the concept of freedom has been undergoing a progressive deterioration and dissipation of meaning.” Varying definitions of “liberty,” each emphasizing a particular aspect of human experience, have confused and debased this term. We need to revitalize the concept of liberty to solve policy problems.
In formulating his definition, Draughton expressly eliminates the notion of “categorical freedom,” in which a person is either free or not free. Instead, he favors the idea of “comparative freedom” or “degrees of freedom.” This relative view of liberty allows for a large number of interacting components, rather than the single litmus test to determine whether one is free.
One such component is choice. The more alternatives and choices, the more freedom. The notion of “option demand” in urban economics demonstrates that persons are actually willing to pay in order to widen the number of choices to the greatest degree possible. In general, people are more free as the number of acceptable options increases and the number of closed ones diminishes.
Another component in the definition of liberty is utility, which depends directly upon the values of the person who is choosing. In general, a person is more free the greater the positive utility of each open alternative and the smaller the positive utility of each closed alternative. Thus, classic “approach-approach” conflicts are situations of low freedom, since making one choice also involves eliminating another choice of high utility. Degrees of utility can serve as a useful measure of the degree of freedom in a situation. Thus, a person faced with a choice of exile or hanging will feel less free than the same person having to choose between being transferred or fired.
The availability of resources (material and nonmaterial) also affect the level of one's freedom. A person making a decision on the basis of insufficient or inaccurate information experiences a limitation of resources directly relevant to his liberty. Mental and physical abilities, health, and monetary resources, all affect one's capacity to carry out decisions.
Social context is also a strong influence upon one's liberty to choose and to act. The socialization process in a particular culture, the benevolence or hostility of persons in one's environment, a precarious or secure outlook for the future—all these social factors influence the individual's faculty of choice.
Professor Draughton envisions extensive policy implications for his comparative concept of freedom. The question of what constitutes a just distribution of liberty arises since freedom now admits of limits. Thus, future public policy will aim at a general raising of the level of liberty and of the justice of its distribution.