John Locke and liberty as non-domination: an historical perspective
As part of a general critique of the liberal definition of political liberty, neo-republican theorists such as Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner have devised a ‘non-domination’ account. Non-domination liberty seeks to preserve the end-setting freedom of individuals, but also to secure individuals from reliance on arbitrary power. It goes beyond mere negative liberty, but without tipping into contestable accounts of positive liberty. Pettit and Skinner argue that this ‘third way’ liberty first developed among early modern republicans. The present paper contests this historical lineage, and argues that the neo-republicans have overlooked the primary c
e value of historical understanding to political theorists.
Jeffrey Collins received his PhD in history from Harvard University in 1999. He was a Harper post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago from 2001 to 2004. He is currently an associate professor of history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is the author of The Allegiance of Thomas Hobbes (Oxford, 2005), and of numerous articles and book chapters on the history of political theory and religion in early modern Britain. He is currently completing a second book, entitled “Religious Freedom and the Origins of Liberalism.”