Samuel Goldman has written an excellent essay about the complex position of liberties in our current society. In this brief reply, I first amplify some of his points, most importantly underscoring how the pluralism of liberties creates difficulties in modernity. Second, I describe why the freedom of association is our most undervalued liberty because associations help people mediate between potentially conflicting liberties amidst this pluralism. Finally, I register a disagreement about the virtues of simplicity of government programs, because in my view Goldman has not sufficiently internalized his own analysis to recognize that such pluralism sometimes may require complexity in schemes of social governance.
The Plurality of Liberty
Goldman offers at least three insights about liberty in our current world. First, “liberty is plural,” and includes such varied liberties as civic freedom, commercial freedom, and the more radical autonomy of modernity with its familiar expression in sexual freedom. There is … Read the rest