Encyclopedia of Global Justice

2011 Edition
| Editors: Deen K. Chatterjee


  • Kenneth Lasson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_317

Liberty is a concept of political philosophy which describes an individual’s right to act according to his or her own will, free from outside compulsion or coercion.

One of the earliest usages of the word freedom can be found in the legal code of Lagash, a Sumerian city-state whose king Urukagina established laws that forbade compelling the sale of property and required that charges be stated before any man accused of a crime could be tried or punished. The Code of Hammurabi also prohibited compulsion in economic matters, and regarded murder, whether done by rich or poor, as a criminal offense. In the Persian Empire, equal rights were afforded to citizens of all religions and ethnic groups, as well as to women.

The notion of civil liberties can fairly be dated back to Socrates, the first notable proponent of free speech. Socrates roamed the marketplace and other centers of debate in Athens, mocking the Greek gods as silly and immoral and seeking to lay bare the ignorance of political...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Lasson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of BaltimoreBaltimoreUSA