I am reasoning that freedom is

"the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint."

Crime is, by this definition, an act of free will. A "crime" does not have to be murder; a crime could be tying you shoes if the government decreed it. If you physically can do something, and someone else says not to do it, couldn't you still do it? Even in movies like "The Purge," where the government says that crime is legal, there is no difference in the number of crimes, they're just concentrated. Even where action is limited by government, government is free to act, so freedom still exists for them?

People in the news say how their freedoms are being taken away, but I think that freedom, by definition, can never be taken away. Otherwise, people couldn't break law, America wouldn't have formed, and the Bastille wouldn't have been stormed. Given freedom of will is considered intrinsic to humans, is a human without free will logically impossible?

  • 2
    On any common interpretation of "freedom" the answer is yes, it can be restricted easily. Any physical activity can be physically restricted, and even reigning in the empire of one's mind can be affected by threats, conditioning, chemicals, etc. One can also be killed or turned into a vegetable. Moreover, if determinism is true we have no "freedom" to begin with.
    – Conifold
    Sep 16, 2021 at 20:44
  • If you've not yet read Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning," you may appreciate his thoughts on this. Sep 16, 2021 at 22:00
  • This question is just mixing definitions of freedom and creating confusion where there was none.
    – TKoL
    Sep 17, 2021 at 8:35
  • Are there different types of freedom? Such as freedom to breath, blink, eat - all the things we do instinctively and as necessary for survival. There are freedoms granted by The State through rules, laws, norms - all tend to be enforced through cultural ideals or through the use of force, such as the police or the military. There is collective responsibility of the masses to follow all laws imposed upon them, and they tend to be so to ensure the common good, law and order, equality, security. You're FREE to (attempt) to act contrary to these rules & to whatever extent. See: Mills, On Liberty.
    – user48972
    Sep 18, 2021 at 16:47
  • an important philosopher who thought that freedom cannot ever be taken away is Jean-Paul Sartre: “Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.”
    – viuser
    Oct 17, 2021 at 20:50

2 Answers 2


You define freedom as "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint." That last clause is very important. If a law is created that makes it more difficult to preform an action, then the freedom of the citizens has been decreased since now hindrances and/or restraints exist.

I understand what you are getting at. Most laws take the form 'If [insert action], then [insert consequence].'

  • If you commit murder, then you go to jail.
  • If you practice a certain religion, then you are killed.
  • If you try to communicate anti-government ideas, then you will be exiled.

You can argue that laws like these do not decrease freedom because consequences, which by definition must happen after the action, do not make it more difficult to preform the action. However, there are laws which do make it more difficult to preform an action, usually by targeting intention or materials required for the action.

  • If a government official believes you intend to commit murder, then he can put you in handcuffs.
  • If a government official finds items necessary to preform certain religious activities, then they are destroyed.
  • If you intend to publish a book, then a government official must edit all anti-government ideas from it first.

Freedom cannot be taken away. Freedom is inherent in the exercise human will, which is a function of the subjective mind, so (short of physical or psychological damage to the mind) one has freedom as a necessary part of existence.

That being said, liberty can be taken away. Liberty is a social function where the human will can be exercised within and through the collective structures, resources, and opportunities provided by the surrounding people in society. If society decides that no one should tie shoes, society can deprive willful shoe-tying people of the opportunity to tie shoes (placing them in shoe jail), of shoes that are capable of being tied (by mandating that all shoes be slip-ons), or of shoe laces that might be tied (by prohibiting the manufacture of importation of laces). People with the will still have the freedom to make or obtain their own lace-up shoes, but society takes away the liberty of easy access.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.