John Keane | Melvyn Bragg’s BBC Radio 4 History in Our Time
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Melvyn Bragg’s BBC Radio 4 History in Our Time

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John Keane with Bernard Williams and Annabel Brett , talks of Freedom – July, 4, 2002.


Freedom and slavery are mental states
Mahatma Gandhi

Freedom has been a subject of enquiry for philosophers, theologians and politicians who have attempted to define the conditions required for humans to be free, not just in their minds but in the wider world. Some have argued that man is naturally free and no laws should confine his liberty. Others have countered that laws are the only way to preserve freedom, they protect us from the slavery of the abyss.

The very idea of freedom is riddled with constraints, limitations and qualifications, yet it is seen by many as the most basic of human rights and for some as a principle worth fighting and dying for.


John Keane
Professor of Politics, University of Westminster, author of a forthcoming history of democracy

Bernard Williams
Professor of Philosophy, University of California, author of the forthcoming Truth and Truthfulness (Princeton Press, October 2002)

Annabel Brett
Lecturer in History, University of Cambridge, editor with Quentin Skinner of Liberty, Right and Nature (Cambridge University Press).

Alternatively visit the History in Our Time website