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Freedom is, as everybody knows, one of the greatest and most noble of our own political ideals, but also of the commonly cherished ideals of most of the nation-states of the world. Nonetheless, it is sometimes a difficult idea to fill with any content, since freedom connotes an unspecific state of being in which one can do what one likes. The grim philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, who considered freedom largely a delusion, wrote in his study of the state and its sovereignty, Leviathan (1651), that all that is required for someone to be free is that action proceed from a person's will. Since he held a very low view of human wilfulness, it followed that freedom had better be strongly constrained by civil law and ...

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