This series of public talks looks at the meanings of ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’, both historically and in contemporary society. In this short series, we are joined by three leading scholars, who explore how these key words have been used to shape our society.
Tuesday, 25 October 2022, 16:00 – 17:00 GMT
Speakers: Quentin Skinner
Tuesday, 15 November 2022, 16:00 – 17:00 GMT
Speakers: David Kazanjian
Freedom is often discussed as if it were an abstract idea whose modern meanings were defined by political philosophers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; as a result, it can seem too general, more a buzzword than a useful concept, and too elite, more a topic for a drawing room than a street corner. By way of contrast, I will talk about how black and indigenous people in Liberia and the Yucatán, Mexico during the nineteenth century lived and indeed theorized freedom in quotidian ways that remain challenging and refreshing for us today. More details and register via Eventbrite.
Tuesday, 29 November 2022, 16:00 – 17:00 GMT
Anarchists argue, against convention, that freedom does not demand the existence of law. To investigate this view, I consider how anarchists have responded to debates about positive and negative liberty. Adapting Isaiah Berlin’s two conceptions, I argue that anarchists are positive libertarians who reject the idea that liberty is a public or collective condition and negative libertarians who attack the idea of individual rights. The complications of anarchist thought explain why anarchists use the language of republicanism to defend freedom as non-domination. But they also highlight the view, expressed by Peter Kropotkin, that liberty is a social project not a social condition. More details and register via Eventbrite.