Recently, Arizona governor Jan Brewer (R) vetoed a controversial piece of legislation that would have allowed businesses in Arizona to refuse service to homosexuals on the grounds that to do otherwise would infringe upon their religious freedom. The bill was widely condemned, and I had no wish to pile on, but I’ve read a piece that offers an interesting defense of the bill. While I don’t think the argument ultimately holds up, it’s an argument that needs to be taken seriously and picked apart.
So apparently some people at Oxford’s student union want to boycott Israel. I disapprove strongly of the way the Israeli state treats its Arab citizens and the Palestinian population it keeps stateless. Nonetheless, I am opposed to this idea, and I want to explain why.
Often times freedom is viewed as good in itself. Why is it good to allow freedom of speech, freedom of expression, assembly, religion, autonomous decision making, that whole boatload of fun stuff? Generally the liberal response is to just assert that freedom is itself good for no other reason than it just is. The argument for freedom is too often made on the basis of self-evidence than on any sort of consequentialist grounds. We all believe freedom to be a good thing because we have all been brought up socially to believe that this is the case from childhood. Don’t mistake my aim–I am not going to claim that freedom is not a good thing. I am, however, going to claim that there is an external source from which the goodness of freedom derives, and that this external source provides some separation between voting and freedom that begins to show how we might have the latter without the former.