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What is the connection between morality and freedom?


This was once fully understood by the key figures associated with the emergence (in their different ways) of the free societies of England and America. In England Locke distinguished between liberty, the freedom to do what you may, and licence, the freedom to do what you want.[3] Alexis de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, wrote that “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”[4] In his Farewell Address, George Washington wrote, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion, and morality are indispensable supports.”

Why so? What is the connection between morality and freedom? The answer was given by Edmund Burke:


“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites… Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”[5]


In other words, the less law enforcement depends on surveillance or the police, and the more on internalised habits of law-abidingness, the freer the society.
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