How far does individual freedom reach?

The costs of prohibition are great, but can people be trusted to make the best decisions for themselves?

  • Classical liberals favor democracy because it operates as a ruling of the people by the people, rather than rule by someone else.
  • This lends itself to the concept of negative freedom, or freedom from being compelled by the state or other authority to do something. So Daniel Jacobson, professor of philosophy at University of Michigan, raises the question: Do we have absolute sovereignty over our bodies?
  • The crucial point for liberalism is that liberty ought to be the default. It shouldn't be easy to justify compulsion.
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Can foreign intervention lead to peaceful solutions?

Despite potential good intentions, interventionist policies are often viewed by classical liberals as violations of individual freedoms.

  • Intervention covers a range of activity broader than just war. Some interventions have more humanitarian aims, such as disaster relief and development aid.
  • Oftentimes, the drive behind many instances of intervention involves some form of political, economic, or social outcome.
  • There are important questions to consider regarding knowledge, goals, incentives, and unintended consequences. The answers to these indicate whether an intervention is necessary and appropriate.
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Will conversion therapy be banned in the U.S.?

The answer depends on how we choose to balance religious freedom, social inclusion, and the search for self-identity.

  • Most medical and mental health organizations have condemned conversion therapy as injurious and lacking support of empirical evidence.
  • Today, 19 states and many cities have passed laws protecting youths from the practice.
  • However, lawsuits and pushback by religious organizations have limited what laws can be passed.
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How does the rule of law promote a free society?

In classical liberal philosophy, individual pursuit of happiness is made possible by a framework of law.

  • The rule of law as a principle has a philosophical history before it was popularized by classical liberalism, which can be traced back to Greek philosopher Aristotle.
  • The classical liberal conception of laws draws upon this pre-history but differs slightly. Yes, the end goal is the common good, however "goodness" varies by individual.
  • In this way of thinking, instead of telling us what will make us happy, law serves as the framework that allows us to pursue our own unique happiness.
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Algorithms identify repeat offenders better than judges

Can AI make better predictions about future crimes?

Image source: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock
  • A new study finds algorithmic predictions of recidivism more accurate than human authorities.
  • Researchers are trying to construct tests of such AI that accurately mirror real-world deliberations.
  • What level of reliability should we demand of AI in sentencing?
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