Constanze Binder, Agency, Freedom and Choice

Nestor Lovera Nieto

First Lines

Over the last forty years, the debate between the choice of a value-neutral approach and a value-based approach to measure overall freedom has been important in the philosophical literature on freedom. The question is whether the value attributed to particular freedoms (i.e. freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom to practice a religion, freedom to leave one’s country, etc.) can be accounted for in the measurement of overall freedom. This is the starting point of Constanze Binder in her book Agency Freedom and Choice. She tries to participate in this debate and shows that whether particular freedoms can contribute to the agency value of a person’s freedom (at a given point in time) depends on that person’s system of value and goals.

Binder, an associate professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, is specialized on the philosophy of economics with a focus on the analysis of freedom, responsibility and distributive justice, and the ethics of individual and collective decision making in politics and economics. Her book presents a multidisciplinary analysis that seeks to understand the increase or decrease of freedom, to find out if there is a way to compare diverse social states concerning the freedom that people have in them, and to determine the way in which one social agreement can promote more freedom than another. The fact that Binder uses different fields (philosophical literature on freedom, freedom ranking literature and the capability approach) allows her to enrich the study of freedom’s agency value…

[Read the review in Cairn]