At the AEA meetings, I heard Kenneth Elzinga contrast two views of freedom. One view, the usual political one, is of freedom from external coercion. The Christian view is of freedom from sin, which I interpret as freedom from internal coercion. Both of these, I think, are reasonable meanings for freedom, merely reflecting different obstacles to our wills. Someone who wishes to give up being a mobster might be prevented by fear of being punished by another mobster, or he might be prevented by his own greed. The greed is his own, but he might equally say to himself in both situations that *he* wants to give up his sinful life but cannot. The question with internal coercion is what “he” means. Which desire is the true man, the greed (which is the stronger) or the expressed will? In such a situation he might be thankful for being coerced externally into entering the government’s Witness Protection Program, giving up crime under the threat of imprisonment.

The idea of multiple selves might be helpful too. Suppose Rasmusen-2007 wishes to use heroin, but Rasmusen-2008 does not want to be an addict. Rasmusen-2007 comes first, so he gets to make the decision for both of them. In this way he himself is free, but he is coercing Rasmusen-2008. I am not sure whether to call this internal coercion or external.

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