What Safeguards are Necessary to Guarantee Political Liberty as Non-Domination?

  • Thomas S Blenkinsop

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Liberty has traditionally been conceived of as an important and social good, and indeed the prime moral good, by liberal and libertarian thinkers. This thesis argues that the traditional conception of political liberty in the negative sense – freedom from interference – is insufficient as an explanation, and political liberty should instead be conceived of as freedom from domination, as espoused by republican thinkers, especially Philip Pettit. However, it is further argued that non-domination requires additional conceptual and practical support, by the republicans’ own logic, than has traditionally been extended. Most critically, a critique is advanced based on the additions of alienation and structural domination as key republican concepts. This critique argues that corporate power, and the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few, drastically undermines republican freedom, and must be combated via regulation and economic reform, which the thesis refers to as “strict material equality”, in contrast to Pettit’s “loose material equality” and “expressive egalitarianism”. The form this regulation and reform might take is considered in detail before the thesis presents a potential solution based on a form of democratic socialism which makes use of social recognition, socialisation, and controlled voluntary exchange in the model Joseph Carens presents in his book “Equality, Moral Incentives, and the Market”. The remainder of the thesis is devoted to explicating and defending a republican take on his “egalitarian system”, and defending his socialisation process, explicit utopianism, and the socialist elements which the thesis invokes to explain problems of alienation and corporate power.
Date of Award23 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorD S Morgan (Supervisor) & Christopher D I Bertram (Supervisor)

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