OBLIGATIONS, INSTITUTIONS AND REPUBLICAN FREEDOM
Rethinking restrictions on freedom
The article addresses the debate between Matthew Kramer and Quentin Skinner regarding the concept of freedom, focusing on Kramer’s argument that obligations cannot restrict an agent’s particular freedom. After reconstructing the response that Kramer proposes to one of Skinner’s criticisms against theories of pure negative freedom, I present the republican conception of political freedom, as put forth by Skinner in his work. Having presented the debate, I discuss the relationship between obligation and freedom, arguing that Kramer’s response to Skinner on this point is insufficient, which is made clear when one considers the role of institutions in the construction of our social reality, which reveals a form of restricting freedom which isn’t considered by the author. I conclude by pointing to a fragility in the distinction between normative freedom and non-normative freedom proposed by Kramer, explaining why this distinction is of little importance to republican theory.