liberty

The Philosophical Concept of Liberty

Liberty has found philosophical expression in individualism and anarchism (an extreme form of individualism) and in nationalism. Such philosophers as John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau popularized the conception of the individual as having certain natural rights that could not be denied or taken away by society or by any external authority, rights that Thomas Jefferson spoke of in the Declaration of Independence as "unalienable" and that were embodied in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. Rousseau especially thought of them as the rights possessed by people living in a "state of nature" and not surrendered, only modified, in the social contract by which they agreed to live together in society.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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