2 Oliver O’Donovan, The Ways of Judgment (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 68.
3 Yoram Hazony, The Virtue of Nationalism (New York: Basic Books, 2018), 102.
4 J.S. Mill, “On Liberty,” On Liberty, Utilitarianism, and Other Essays ed. Mark Philp and Frederick Rosen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 15.
5 Mill, “On Liberty,” 8.
6 Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents, ed. Bruce Caldwell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 77, 102.
7 Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” in Liberty: Incorporating Four Essays on Liberty, ed. Henry Hardy, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 169.
8 Mill, “On Liberty,” 13.
9 Hayek, Road to Serfdom, 77.
10 Berlin, “Two Concepts,” 170.
11 Thus, Simone de Beauvoir’s pioneering vision of feminism in which “the good society is that which helps emancipate people from their unchosen identities, such that they can live as free human beings. This emancipation, she argues, must include emancipating us from nature itself.” See: Jake Meador, In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Press, 2019), 52.
12 Oliver O’Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 107–8.
13 Of course, the explosion of divorce in our society is evidence that the liberal conception of freedom as the maximization of options is more than happy to pursue consistency at the cost of durable happiness. So, for instance, Marshall Berman writes, “Because all persons are free and their wills are alterable, the happiness one person can give another is necessarily contingent…. Individuals must remain free to reject any system of roles which fails to fulfill their purposes, and return to anarchic freedom.” Marshall Berman, The Politics of Authenticity (New York: Verso, 2009), 24, 35; quoted in Meador, In Search of the Common Good, 59.
14 O’Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order, 108.
15 As we noted above, it is not quite that simple, since even the prisoner in his cell can retain a kind of inward freedom, choosing to embrace his suffering rather than letting it control him; so ancient Stoicism argued, with much of the Christian tradition following. Still, this only works as a substitution of internal agency for external agency, in circumstances where the latter is radically constrained.
16 Oliver O’Donovan, Finding and Seeking: Ethics as Theology, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 25-27.
17 Of course, it is here that Western religious traditions have registered a key protest, arguing that the freest and most meaningful action of all is that done before God, even though hidden to the sight of others. The courageous acts that this transcendent perspective has enabled should never cease to inspire us; still, it is the exception that proves the rule. Such deeds, after all, still need an audience of at least one, and they are ordinarily sustained by the hope of eschatological vindication: the confidence that although I may now find myself obliged to act contra mundum, in a way that cannot but seem absurd to my contemporaries, I will one day find myself vindicated in the sight of all.
18 Quentin, Skinner, “A Third Concept of Liberty,” in Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 117, 2001 Lectures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 247–48. See also Quentin Skinner, Liberty Before Liberalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). Although Skinner only mentions the American Founding in passing on page 50 of Liberty Before Liberalism, this volume is very helpful in showing that the writers upon whom the Founders most relied were almost exclusively concerned in articulating this third concept, in heated debate against a Hobbesian concept of negative liberty. Patrick Deneen would have done well to consider this evidence before writing his Why Liberalism Failed. Although writing before Skinner’s helpful conceptual ground-clearing, Barry Alan Shain corroborates his essential point in The Myth of American Individualism: The Protestant Foundations of American Political Thought (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 181–92. Shain’s book more generally is an extended polemic against the idea that the Founding era was much concerned with the later individualist idea of negative freedom.
19 Matthew B. Crawford, “Algorithmic Governance and Legitimacy,” American Affairs 3, no. 2 (Summer 2019): 82.
20 Matthew B. Crawford, The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2015), 25.
21 O’Donovan, Ways of Judgment, 68.
22 Oliver O’Donovan, Begotten or Made? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), 19.
23 Cf. O’Donovan, Ways of Judgment, 47-48.
24 O’Donovan, Ways of Judgment, 149.
25 Hazony, Virtue of Nationalism, 104.
26 Hazony, Virtue of Nationalism, 106.
27 O’Donovan, Ways of Judgment, 151.
28 Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, and Other Writings, ed. Jesse Norman (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), 587.
29 Although the insight here is surely Tolkien’s, suggested at several places throughout The Lord of the Rings, I owe its pithy expression in this context to my friend Nathan Hitchen.
30 Oliver O’Donovan, Ways of Judgment, 150.
31 Burke, Reflections on the Revolution, 600.