On one view, I am free to fly, because no other person renders it physically impossible for me to do so.

On another view, I am unfree to fly, because I am not able to. The act of flying is not available for me, so I cannot be said to have the freedom to fly.

Who are philosophers who hold these positions, and how are their theories called? It would be especially useful if the answer includes a quotation.

1 Answer 1


Ayn Rand (Objectivism):

Freedom, in a political context, means freedom from government coercion. It does not mean freedom from the landlord, or freedom from the employer, or freedom from the laws of nature which do not provide men with automatic prosperity. It means freedom from the coercive power of the state—and nothing else.


Ludwig von Mises (Human Action Chapter XV Section 6):

Only within the frame of a social system can a meaning be attached to the term freedom. As a praxeological term, freedom refers to the sphere within which a acting individual is in a position to choose between alternative modes of action. A man is free in so far as he is permitted to choose ends and the means to be used for the attainment of those ends. A man's freedom is most rigidly restricted by the laws of nature as well as by the laws of praxeology. He cannot attain ends which are incompatible with one another. If he chooses to indulge in gratifications that produce definite effects upon the functioning of his body or his mind, he must put up with these consequences. It would be inexpedient to say that man is not free because he cannot enjoy the pleasures of indulgence in certain drugs without being affected by their inevitable results, commonly considered as highly undesirable. While this is admitted by and large by all reasonable people, there is no such unanimity with regard to the appreciation of the laws of praxeology.


Also, you can fly provided you have enough money for a plane ticket. You can't float unaided. I don't know of any philosopher who claims you're not free because you can't float unaided.

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