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The Liberty Paradox

Living with the Responsibilities of Freedom
Table of

How do we balance freedom with the responsibilities we owe each other as members of society?

Are we free to do whatever we want? This idea challenges us throughout our daily lives, from how to tackle pandemic restrictions and vaccine mandates to how to respond to technological innovations and climate change warnings. In The Liberty Paradox, David Kinley argues that we must rehabilitate the notion of liberty by rescuing it from the myopic demands of freedom without limit and reinstating the essential ingredient of social responsibility.

Combining political, philosophical, and personal reflections as a global human rights lawyer, Kinley examines the implications of this liberty reset for how we negotiate freedoms boundaries in the realms of wealth, work, health, happiness, security, voice, love, and death. With chapters dedicated to each of these life-defining domains and written in a style both engaging and insightful, The Liberty Paradox explores how we try—and often fail—to balance personal desires and public interests. Kinley concludes that preserving liberty and protecting it from radical individualism requires new ways of respecting each other and rebuilding trust in the institutions and people that govern us.

David Kinley is the inaugural Chair of Human Rights Law at the University of Sydney, a founding member of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and an Expert Member of Doughty Street Chambers in London. He is the author of Necessary Evil: How to Fix Finance by Saving Human Rights and the coauthor of The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Introduction. Tea with a Dictator
Part I. Understanding Liberty
1. From "Liberty Dogs" to "Freedom Fries"
2. There Are No Robinson Crusoes
Part II. Negotiating Liberty
3. Health: Knowing Whats Good for You
4. Happiness: Of Miserable Grumps and Graceful Oysters
5. Wealth: Is Freedom for Sale?
6. Work: Bullshit or Beatific?
7. Security: Freedoms Awkward Sibling
8. Voice: Free to Offend or an Offensive Freedom?
9. Love: Whats the State Doing in Your Bedroom?
10. Death: The Ultimate Freedom?
Part III. Rehabilitating Liberty
11. Respect: Playing on a Team
12. Trust: Libertys Keystone

How do we balance freedom with the responsibilities we owe each other as members of society?

Kinley has rediscovered liberty, which provides the essential nexus between freedom and responsibility. This book was desperately needed three years ago, but it is not too late. Everyone interested in how we go forward from here will find in it the balances essential to good decision making.

— Chris Sidoti, former Australian Human Rights Commissioner; UN Commission of Inquiry on Palestine and Israel; Special Advisory Council on Myanmar; International Service for Human Rights

Filled with the most readable vignettes of historical and contemporary significance, this book takes us on a much-needed global journey through the many and varied paradoxes of liberty to help us appreciate that liberty, in all its glory, encompasses both freedom and responsibility.

— Justine Nolan, Australian Human Rights Institute, University of New South Wales; author of Addressing Modern Slavery

Kinley makes a powerful case for restoring the contingent and reciprocal notion of liberty to its rightful place in democracy, as opposed to the absolutist concept of freedom that is currently in vogue. This wide-ranging discussion of the contemporary and historical balances that must be struck between individual and community rights is an excellent introduction to a much-needed debate.

— Hurst Hannum, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; author of Rescuing Human Rights

Conceptual and informative, and enjoyable and intriguing. How did we get here, a place of a facile functioning of freedom, with people in democracies everywhere proclaiming their freedom over other citizens with whom they share a country? This book is prescient and observant.

— Patricia Viseur Sellers, Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; London School of Economics

David Kinley has produced a superb and subtle interrogation of the tensions and paradoxes of individual agency in complex ecologies of agency exercised by individual bodies and bodies corporate.

— Larry Catá Backer, Pennsylvania State University; author of Hong Kong between "One Country" and "Two Systems"

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