Poverty, property and the non-specific value of freedom
This thesis examines the relationship between the distribution of property rights and individual freedom. In particular, it is concerned with the effects of poverty (lack of money) on individual freedom. Much of the political philosophy literature on the relationship between freedom and poverty has stressed how poverty prevents individuals from developing their capabilities (freedom to), but there has been less attention paid to the sense in which poverty involves unfreedom in the form of liability to interference from others (freedom from). In this thesis, I analyze the sense in which poverty can be said to involve lack of freedom even in this more austere ‘negative’ sense and attempt to show that this both (a) is morally relevant and (b) can be alleviated through certain poverty-reduction measures in line with a suitable principle for the distribution of freedom. I begin by attempting to define a conception of overall freedom that allows us to make interpersonal comparisons of how free individuals are in the negative sense, and I offer reasons why we should think negative freedom is valuable as such. I analyze Cohen (2011)’s argument that poverty entails lack of freedom and try to show how money structures the freedom to perform sets of actions. I conclude by discussing which distributive principles might be suitable for the sort of value I have assigned freedom, and I argue that certain poverty- reduction measures may promote negative freedom on this principle.