13th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Lio

Stefania Lio

Freedom as Non-Domination, Social Justice and Equality: A Critique of Philip Pettit’s Theory

Within the debate concerning political freedom, a certain dissatisfaction has gradually emerged regarding the traditional dichotomy of Berlin, which has in turn led to a substantial redefinition of what should constitute the political conceptualization. In particular, starting from the 1980s, there has been a renaissance of a number of political traditions that aspire to introduce themselves as a third option between liberalism and communitarianism: this is the case of republicanism. Philip Pettit, in particular, is noted for his development of the neo-republican theses, focusing specifically on the formulation of the idea of freedom as non-domination. In this way, Pettit wants to challenge liberalism on its own soil, re-interpreting its core ideal (that of freedom) rather than emphasizing a rival ideal (that of the civic virtue). By every account, justice requires the State to treat its citizens as equals, and by the republican account in particular it requires the State to treat them as equals in providing for their enjoyment of freedom as non-domination. The aim of this paper is to analyze the relationship between the ideal of freedom as non-domination, the idea of social justice, and the idea of equality in order to determine whether the republican conception of freedom, far from being the only good in life, could be the best direction that governments, forming and supporting their own people, should follow. This paper has three main sections. In section one I introduce the link between the ideal of freedom and the idea of justice and equality within Pettit’s theory; in section two I describe the concept of freedom as non-domination and its main characteristics; and, finally, in section three, I show the reason why freedom as non-domination cannot be a good that the State equally distributes because the concept lacks the base of equality.