What Is Freedom?
From The Western Democratic Tradition by LJM Cooray

What is freedom? How is freedom related to liberty? Liberty conveys the idea of the right or the ability of the individual to do what he wants. Freedom on the other hand is a word which contains inbuilt restrictions. My freedom to swing my hands stops at my neighbour's nose. A free society contains individuals who are free to do what they do, whilst respecting the freedoms of others. Freedom is the liberty of the individual coupled with concern by the liberated individual for the liberties of others.

Freedom cannot be defined, except through an analysis of the restrictions on human action.

Therefore, the area of freedom available to the individual in any society is a residuary one. The individual is at liberty to do what law and social custom do not forbid. Therefore, the content of the restrictions on liberty are important. What distinguishes a free society from other societies is the nature and extent of the legal and customary restrictions on freedom.

Freedom can be defined only in terms of the restrictions on freedom - and I show some of the legal restrictions on freedom which historically evolved and were responsible for the rise of western civilisation are analysed in this paper.