Is a Free Society Also a Just Society?

Estefanía Campos  | 17 de abril de 2017  | Vistas: 741

Samuel Gregg based in his experience speaking and writing about political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory, tries to answer a question that has preoccupied society since the time of Platon and Aristoteles: is a free society also a just society? Find out why, according to Gregg, it depends on the understanding we have of human reason, liberty, the individual, community, the government and justice.

The focus of his remarks is clarifying some of the key preliminary issues that need to be addressed. He begins by analysing the proposals of two classical liberal thinkers about the nature of freedom: Lord Acton and John Stuart Mill.

Mill was very interested in the philosophical side of liberty. [...] Lord Acton was a little different, he was very attentive to the historical and cultural dimensions of liberty.”

These two thinkers, as well as John Finnis and Thomas Aquinas recognize that the element of free choice is crucial if a human action is going to be authentically free, despite they all could not be cataloged as moral relativists. He later discusses utilitarianism and how there’s a problem with its principles because it assumes that it is possible to measure pleasure and happiness, and it is not.

Then Gregg talks about the role of the justice system in a society of free persons, to answer the main question of the lecture, the extend of the law and the use of legal coercion.

To pursue liberty, means at some point you have to define the legal restrictions that allow many people to exercise their liberty.”

Samuel finally talks about how law can have an educational function, because it helps to provide information about matters people needs to know in order to make reasonable choices. Also shares his ideas about subsidiarity, which combines axioms of non interference in people’s choices and systems. He concludes that without freedom, there cannot be a just society.

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Director of Research, Acton Institute


Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín