Bergmann"s Theory of Freedom.

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  • Author(s): Ball, Stephen W.
  • Source:
    Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Sep85, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p287. 18p.
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    • Abstract:
      The topic of freedom naturally invites attention to the sciences, and the dependence of both the theory of freedom and related practical issues upon empirical considerations informed by social research is especially prominent in Bergmann's work on the subject, which has yet to be critically analyzed in a serious way. In chapters 1-5, beginning with a distinctive analysis of traditional conceptualizations of freedom in the history of philosophy, Bergmann presents the view that freedom is 'self-expression', a notion which he relates to the psychological theory of Erickson and Piaget. The remaining two chapters, much longer pieces comprising over half the book, proffer various observations on the prevalent ideals of free education and the free society, respectively. Chapter 6 addresses John Dewey, Bruno Bettelheim, and A. S. Neill, while chapter 7 combines a discussion of the 'practical' value of democracy with reflections on economic freedom, invoking Marshall Sahlins, Alexander Chayanev, Max Weber, and ethnographic data to advance a proposal about labour. The book is complicated by the loose metaphorical prose in which it is written, the wide assortment of insights presented, and various statements of the purposes to be achieved. Section I of the following analysis, then, concentrates on the fundamental question of what a 'theory' of freedom is, and relates Bergmann's definition to others in the literature which he does not discuss. Section II analyzes the main arguments which Bergmann gives for his theory, and its rejection of traditional views, especially that of liberal political theory, which conceive of freedom as the absence of different kinds of obstacles to action. Finally, Section III queries the implications of Bergmann's theory for structuring social, political and economic institutions. Because problems of consistency arise in interpreting even the basic themes of the theory, this essay is of necessity closely documented in the text. Though the... [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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