What is the interaction between personal freedom and infringement of people’s liberty? Well, in order to understand this association, it is important to go back in time. Personal freedom is based on the maxim of liberty, and this was envisaged by early philosophers such as John Stuart Mill. The maxim of individual liberty envisions that individuals have the freedom of choice and make decisions without any restrictions. Most western democracies have taken measures to safeguard personal freedom as a fundamental right, and this has seen the protection of personal freedom by most constitutions in the world. Nevertheless, personal freedom should be exercised in a manner that will not interfere with, or restrict, the freedom of others.
This brings in the subject of the rule of law and the situations under which personal freedom maybe restricted for the common good of many people out there. Apart from the deliberate restriction of personal freedom by the law enforcers, individual liberty can also be interfered with through unintentional means. For example, if voters in a certain state determine that all individuals within a state must contribute to the state social security fund to take care of them when they age, then, the freedom of present and future generations to plan their own retirement is infringed. Although such a program could be noble, this is a clear deprivation of personal freedom.
The only way to address liberty infringement is through the rule of law. The rule of rule exists not to restrain individual liberties, but to preserve and enlarge the scope of personal freedom. The specific aspects of the rule of law dealing with individual liberty should not only be able to secure equality for all, but also determine for whom the freedom is exercised. A good example whereby personal freedom may be restricted using legal means is a case where an individual may desire to build a beach cottage near the ocean thus denying the residents the only access to the ocean. In this case personal freedom comes into conflict with the individual liberties of many other people the residents near the ocean, thus the construction of the beach cottage may be stopped on such grounds.
Kioupkiolis, A. (2012). Freedom After the Critique of Foundations: Marx, Liberalism,
Castoriadis and Agonistic Autonomy. Basingtoke : Palgrave Macmillan.