Difference between liberty and freedom?

My roll of stamps includes 4 types. Each has the US flag, and one of 4 words below it: 1) justice, 2) equality, 3) liberty and 4) freedom. but aren’t liberty and freedom the same thing?

Not as I see it. Liberty is about permission; there’s no law against whatever it is you want to do, you aren’t chained down, you aren’t stuck in a cell, that sort of thing. Freedom is about resources and obligations; you aren’t free to do something if you have a prior commitment, or if you just can’t afford it. Someone who can’t take a day off sick from his awful job because he needs the money and will be fired if he does has liberty, but not freedom.

Some people make a distinction that liberty is what an individual has and freedom is what a group has.

As an example, the characters in 300 were fighting for their freedom because they didn’t want Sparta to be ruled by Persia. But Sparta itself was a dictatorship so they weren’t fighting for liberty.

I always took the connotation to be “liberty from” and “freedom to.” I am at liberty from tyranny, religious oppression, racism, etc. (well, to the degree that constitutional safeguards work at all) while I have the liberty to go out and buy a whole bunch of liquor and porn and cigarettes at the local store.

Not a perfect definition by any means, but the connotation works.

For all practical purposes, they’re synonyms. Taking into account subtle differences, you still can’t have one without the other.

“What’s the difference between Liberty and Freedom?”
I think this is a wonderful question. I asked myself the same question yesterday (July 4, 2013). Here are my conclusions.

Our Nation’s founders selected words carefully and thought the 2 words were very different. Every American should ask and be taught why Liberty was used and the reasons behind it’s use in our founding documents. A little study and research will verify my response, so I’ll try to keep this short.

Two examples/uses of Liberty during the time of our founding are:

  • The Declaration of Independence :
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness …”

  • Patrick Henry:
    “Give me Liberty or give me death!”

Why was the word ‘Liberty’ specifically used instead of ‘Freedom’? It’s important because they have 2 different meanings. That difference is the crux of the Revolution, the Declaration & the Constitution… and our Nation.

  • Liberty = permission to go freely within specified limits; freedom from arbitrary or despotic control (American Revolution)
  • Freedom = freedom from constraints or specified limits (Other Revolutions)

In a democratic republic, ‘Liberty’ is key. It is not ‘Freedom’ which implies unbridled action without specified limits or constraints, or in other words, each person doing what is right in their own eyes (‘Lawless-ness’ - overt or covert). Liberty, on the other hand, implies specified limits based on equally administered/obeyed legal and moral law.

Hence, Alexis deTocqueville’s quote, “… America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America ceases to be great.” That is the moral component. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are the legal components. The link between the 2 components is ‘Liberty’.

So. Words matter. Think about it. Not freedom but Liberty. That is America.

May America, you & yours, enjoy (and protect) the blessings of Liberty granted to us by our Creator and guaranteed to us by our Constitution. : )

Liberty is a broad principle, applying to all behavior by the general public. Freedom can be (but isn 't necessarily) more specific, as to who has the freedom or what the freedom allows one to do.

:dubious: Really? And which “other revolutions” would those be? The French? The Russian? The Chinese? Who was promising (never mind delivering) “freedom from constraints or specified limits” as opposed to “freedom from arbitrary or despotic control”?

I think that pretty much nails it.

Liberty is what you’re allowed to do.

Freedom is what you have when you’ve divested yourself of of all humanity, out in the desert or a forrest.

Freedom is a physical attribute. You have the freedom to walk between your bedroom and living room, for example.

Liberty is a political attribute. As an example, in the United States you have the liberty to publically criticize your elected representatives, and the liberty to petition the government for a redress of grievances.