Freedom pp 119-140 | Cite as

Measurement of Freedom

  • Tim Gray
Part of the Issues in Political Theory book series


Whenever freedom is discussed we customarily take for granted not only its meaning and its value, but also its comparative nature. In doing so, however, we may overlook the fact that any attempt made to compare and contrast the extent of freedom enjoyed by different individuals or different countries, or by the same individuals or countries at different times, faces considerable conceptual and practical difficulties. What these difficulties are, and whether they can be overcome, are the central issues of this chapter. But first a note about the conceptions of freedom to be used in this chapter. Most attention will be focused upon the interpersonal conceptions of freedom — i.e. absence of impediments, availability of choices, effective power and status. The reason for this is that it is in relation to these conceptions of freedom that the central issues of measurement generally arise. For instance, if we are trying to compare the extent of freedom in the USSR with that in the USA, we are more likely to be interested in the legal and social impediments which exist respectively in these countries, than in the extent to which Russians and Americans manifest the quality of self-mastery. Indeed, it has been suggested that the very notion of measuring freedom presupposes an interpersonal conception of freedom, since intrapersonal conceptions of freedom are not susceptible to precise, i.e. quantitative, measurement.


Traffic Light Effective Power Qualitative Judgement Human Body Movement Combine Grade 
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Copyright information

© Tim Gray 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Gray
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of Newcastle upon TyneUK

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