Res Publica

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 455–474 | Cite as

All Liberty is Basic

  • Jessica FlaniganEmail author


Recent arguments for the basic status of economic liberty can be deployed to show that all liberty is basic. The argument for the basic status of all liberty is as follows. First, John Tomasi’s defense of basic economic liberties is successful. Economic freedom can be further defended against powerful high liberal objections, which libertarians including Tomasi have so far overlooked. Yet arguments for basic economic freedom raise a puzzle about the distinction between basic and non-basic liberties. The same reasons that economic liberties and the traditionally defined list of basic liberties are basic can also be given for all other liberties. Therefore, high liberals and Rawlsian libertarians ought to accept almost all other liberties as basic, even liberties that may strike us as trivial, silly, or unimportant. This claim has revisionary implications for high liberalism. Namely, liberals should endorse strong institutional protections for almost all liberties, even at the expense of other social values.


Basic liberty Economic freedom Liberalism Religious liberty Social justice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of RichmondRichmondUSA

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