User voted Freedom.
1 vote
Oct 17, 2015

My personal opinion is to prioritize freedom, but this is one of those questions that actually means very little in practice.

If you have absolute security but no freedom, you have nothing worth living for. And, since absolute security is impossible unless there is an omnipotent enforcer, one often is trading immense amounts of freedom for no additional security.

However, if you have no security, you are living a fearful life. Even if one is fearless, a life without any security isn't going to be free for very long, by virtue of not being secure for very long.

If you don't have a modicum of security, you can't make a variety of interesting choices. Commerce, marriage, friendships... those interactions are very difficult to form and maintain without security. The social contract at its base requires security: Hobbes was right about that.

In the vast majority of situations, I do not want to trade freedom for security because it means I am controlled by fear. Losing quality of life for freedom is in most situations a sucker deal. But the tradeoffs aren't linear: Sometimes, a little bit of extra security practically gives you more freedom than the freedoms lost; other times, a lot of freedom can be purchased by enduring a little less security. Worse, all too often, expanding security means giving the people who want to terrorize us exactly what they want. And short-term security benefits can trade off with long-term security benefits precisely because people resent freedom impositions.

In other words, this question is sort of like asking, "Should I invest in gold or securities?" You want to do both, and there's no simple formula to determinen the mix. You have to refer to other goods too. Freedom and security have to be considered alongside other goods like happiness, perceived freedom, perceived security, equality, etc.

You have to understand why we want freedom to get why this matters. Freedom isn't just an end to itself: It's designed to facilitate the personal growth and development of people, to give them the chance to learn how to be an ethical person, to give them freedom to make mistakes.

In that sense, security is a right to facilitate the same good as freedom.

Reply to this opinion
Challenge someone to answer this opinion:
Invite an OpiWiki user:
Invite your friend via email:
Share it: