Om frihet

Certain words are central to our civilization, so it is good to reflect on their meaning. The most central words, such as the word liberty, often carry multiple meanings and has been the theme for debates over the centuries. The definition of and interpretation of the concept of liberty is key to the understanding of the liberal tradition, which is continuously under discussion and scrutiny. For Timbro these discussions are at the center of our interest. It is therefore a great pleasure for Timbro to host two of the most prominent participants in the debate on liberty in this week's Ideology Pod, professor Daniel B Klein and professor Helena Rosenblatt.


In this talk Dan Klein [] initially reviews four meanings of liberty, and relate those meanings to Benjamin Constant (1767-1830), Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), and Raymond Aron (1905-1983). One of those meanings is the classical liberal meaning, centered on "others not messing with one’s stuff", he says. 


Helena Rosenblatt has argued recently [] in response to Klein’s suggested interpretation of liberty “that it would be a great shame if any person calling themselves “liberal” adopted such a narrow and materialistic definition of liberty. In today’s climate particularly, we need to draw on other resources within the liberal tradition to articulate and defend a more generous articulation.”

Daniel Klein is Professor of Economics, JIN Chair at the Mercatus Center George Mason University and director of the Adam Smith Program. He is the author of Knowledge and Coordination: A Liberal Interpretation (OUP, 2012). He is chief editor of Econ Journal Watch. 

Helena Rosenblatt, recent recipient of a prestigious Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, teaches in the PhD Programs in History, French, and Politicial Science, and the MA Program in Liberal Studies at the Graduate Center at the City Universtiy of New York. She is also a faculty member of the M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir. Her 2018 book The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-first Century has been the theme for earlier talks on liberalism at Timbro. 

Björn Hasselgren introduces the talk. Björn Hasselgren is Senior Fellow at Timbro and has a PhD from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and is a Guest Researcher at the Economic History Department at Uppsala University. He arranges Timbro activities in relation to the classical liberal heritage, such as the Classical Liberal Summer Seminar.