This article attempts a full appreciation of interdependence in Sartre's thinking about practical freedom. The result is an account that opens Sartre's thinking on practical freedom to more than just the empowerment of individuals and groups. Ultimately, this means privileging, perhaps paradoxically, a vision of practical freedom that is greater by being more limited. The trajectory for this attempt is Sartre's 1971 diagnosis of America as “full of myths,” which provokes a critical examination of a vision of freedom in independence. The attempt is then fleshed out through encounters with notions that linger at the fringes of Sartre's thought, namely, happiness, progress, equality and the possibility of everything.
A Dialectic on Freedom
In this article, I focus on de Beauvoir’s view and argue that, alongside an original account of existential freedom, she utilises a Marxist-inspired historical materialism as a methodological tool with which to analyse the social position of women. First, I discuss existential freedom and highlight de Beauvoir’s introduction of gender, whereby the concepts of material, social and situational conditions cohere to restrict the possibility of freedom and agency for women. Next, I explore Marx’s view on freedom and de Beauvoir’s endorsement that in order to promote human flourishing, structural and material change is required. Although some tensions prevail, I conclude that by weaving together existentialism, phenomenology and Marxism in her unique way, Simone de Beauvoir offers a complex and nuanced approach to human freedom.
Adorno, Levinas and the Pathologies of Freedom
Eric S. Nelson
Adorno and Levinas argue from distinct yet intersecting perspectives that there are pathological forms of freedom, formed by systems of power and economic exchange, which legitimate the neglect, exploitation and domination of others. In this paper, I examine how the works of Adorno and Levinas assist in diagnosing the aporias of liberty in contemporary capitalist societies by providing critical models and strategies for confronting present discourses and systems of freedom that perpetuate unfreedom such as those ideologically expressed in possessive individualist and libertarian conceptions of freedom.
Relational Freedoms of Tanzanian Market-Women
This article offers a relational perspective on the discussion of obligations and freedoms in Kuria women's voluntary associations in Tanzania and explores the impacts of these activities on sociality and public spaces. The constitution of a successful businesswoman is dependent on her membership in various cooperative groups, and her new rights and freedoms reside in the ambiguity between her sovereignty and group belonging. Historically an important means for self-extension, cooperative work remains pertinent in regulating the impacts of new resources. Diverse mediators and conversions have played a key role in building the Kuria person, making available a range of transformative options and revealing the possibilities for mixed forms. It is suggested that an engagement between Melanesian and African perspectives on personhood can contribute to a dynamic and temporally situated study of a social construction of mutuality.
Freedom, Subjectivity and Progress
Kimberly S. Engels
This article focuses on Sartre’s concept of the practicoinert in his major work A Critique of Dialectical Reason, Vol. 1 (CDR). I first show the progression from Sartre’s previous conception of in-itself to his concept of practico-inert. I identify five different layers of the practico-inert: human-made objects, language, ideas, social objects and class being. I show how these practico-inert layers form the possibilities for our subjectivity and how this represents a change from Sartre’s view of in-itself in Being and Nothingness. I then explore the relationship of freedom to the practico-inert and how Sartre argues that the practico-inert places limits on our freedom. Lastly, I argue that despite the pessimistic picture Sartre paints in CDR, the practico-inert has the potential to both limit and enhance our freedom. I appeal to Sartre’s post-CDR essay ‘A Plea for Intellectuals’ to argue that a Sartrean account of progress requires the utilisation of the practico-inert.
Exploitation Without Interpersonal Domination
In this article, I query whether participation in the labour market can hinder neo-republican freedom as non-domination. I briefly present the view of Philip Pettit on the topic, based on the distinction between offering a reward and threatening a punishment. I compare it to the analysis of labour republicans, recently reconstructed by Alex Gourevitch, according to whom, the exclusion of a group of individuals from the control of productive assets represents a form of structural domination. Then, I explain why I take a position that is different from both. I hold that capitalist structural domination leads only to exploitation, not interpersonal domination. In doing this, I consider two objections that might be raised against my argument. The first one is based on incomplete contracts and on a possible ideal benchmark for job offers. The second one challenges the supposed arbitrariness of unequal property relations within the capitalist social system.
Sen, Scanlon and the Inadequacy of the Human Development Index
Although the capability approach has had a tremendous impact on the development debate, it has had little to say about sustainable development. As several Human Development Reports have maintained, the last twenty years' gains in human development are not sustainable. The failure to include an integrate sustainability into the Human Development Index would thus give the wrong policy message. Drawing on the works of Amartya Sen and Thomas Scanlon, this article argues that sustainable development can be seen as a process of increasing legitimate freedoms, the freedoms that others cannot reasonably reject. Thus, Sen's vision of development as freedom is amended to suggest limits to freedoms. Forms of development which are not sustainable can be reasonably rejected due, at least, to the harm and blighting entailed. Based on this, it is argued that at country level of comparison the Human Development Index should be combined with the Ecological Footprint to reflect sustainability, and that the Human Development Reports should give way to Sustainable Development Reports.
Is Liberation without Freedom Possible?
One of the biggest threats in the contemporary world is the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism, which is increasingly becoming a facet of everyday life in Europe. In this article, I question whether it is possible to define Islamic terrorism as a form of counter-violence, according to how Jean-Paul Sartre presented this concept in Notebooks for an Ethics, and, as a consequence, whether it can be legitimized or justified. According to this argument, the freedoms that perceive themselves as oppressed can try to liberate themselves through violence, given certain conditions. However, with terrorism we do not simply face the paradox inherent to counter-violence. The key point, which clearly distinguishes Islamic terrorism from counter-violence, is the fact that behind this nihilistic fury there is no concept of freedom to be liberated.
Narrating and Re-enacting the Australian Freedom Ride
This article explores the intersections between history, memoir, and collective memory. It re ects on my experience of writing, as both historian and former participant, about the 1965 Australian Freedom Ride, which protested racial discrimination against Aboriginal people. It also traces the ways in which memory of and discourse about that event has changed over time: how it was and is remembered and understood, and the di erent uses made of the event by Aboriginal people, educators, and historians.
Deconstructing ‘Development as Freedom’ in Remote Indigenous Australia
Hannah Bulloch and William Fogarty
The idea that freedom should be an explicit goal of development schemes has become popular over recent decades. In this article we consider ways in which the concept is applied to remote Indigenous Australia, such as in Noel Pearson’s invocations of Amartya Sen’s concept of ‘development as freedom’. We draw on the work of governmentality theorists that critically probes the notion of freedom and the ways in which it is tied to its seeming antonym, discipline. We ask what understandings of remote Indigenous Australian life, what ways of thinking about Indigenous futures, may be eclipsed by approaching development aspirations through this (neo-)liberal prism of freedom.