Fighting For Freedom?

We often hear that we must “Fight for Freedom.”  It’s practically saturated everywhere in our culture, especially right after 9/11.  But what does this mean?  Well, this statement seems to have the assumption that we are fighting for x.  Now if you’re fighting for x, that means that you want to obtain x.  But if you want to obtain x, that means you don’t yet have x.  Thus, to fight for x means you don’t yet have x.  In short, the argument goes like this:

  1. To fight for x means you want to obtain x.
  2. To obtain x means you don’t yet have x.
  3. Thus, to fight for x means you don’t yet have x.  (1, 2 Hypothetical Syllogism)

Now, this strikes me as very odd.  I think if you ask the average person, they think they are already free.  Thus, they have freedom already.  Being free seems to be the natural state of affairs than being not-free.  To say someone is fighting for freedom is like me saying I’m fighting for my eyes.  But I already have my eyes, so what’s the point of fighting?

I could imagine someone replying back saying that “Fight for Freedom” really means “Fighting to Sustain Freedom” or “Fighting to Keep Freedom.”  Perhaps this is where my existential bias comes out, but it seems that no matter what, you always have freedom.  Even if you’re in jail, you have the freedom to pace, to think, to scream, to plan an escape, to repent, and so on.  You still have freedom in other words.

Maybe my critics could say that “Fight for Freedom” really means “Fighting for Political Freedom.”  Ok, but I think if you ask most people again, most will say that we are born with natural rights.  So if we’re born with these rights, there’s no sense to fight for them in the same way I was born with eyes.  But if you’re fighting them to sustain them, then my reply above would be the same.

So why say it?  Well, it’s simple rhetoric.  To say “Fight for Freedom” is just another way of saying “I like to fight bad guys.”  That’s all it means, so why can’t the people just admit this?

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
This entry was posted in Culture, Free Will, Government, News, Paper Topic, Politics, Rights. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Fighting For Freedom?

  1. thekillerj says:

    Fight Bad Guys Trying to Take My Freedom! ?

  2. John says:

    I think that when political leaders use the term “fighting for freedom” it is a rhetorical and loaded claim – in most cases.

    However, there are serious situations that change the sense of the term under consideration. Suppose that a person lives in slavey and is required by the laws of the nation to remain in such a state for the rest of his or her natural life. Are we to say that she is free? Under an existential examination we may needle and change the scope of freedom relatively, but she is still not free to choose amid options that, say, I can choose from. So, it is true that she is not as free as I am… The problem is that the scope of the noun “freedom” must be defined in any given situation.

    My personal view of freedom with regards to our discussion is that freedom is to be free from “unjust” a coercion. Yes, the word “unjust” requires further explanation, but it suffices to say that the use employed denotes the same things as we mean when we use it commonly in both the legal and common sense -being logically validated.

  3. Handsome Matt says:

    Fighting bad guys is so GI Joe! By saying we “fight for freedom” it calls up more noble images and gives a sense of justice.

  4. Pingback: What I’ve Learned this Past Year — 2010 Edition « Shaun Miller’s Weblog

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