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Philosophy / Politics

Freedom of Excellence

I have been discussing various freedoms: the freedoms of speech, association and expression. Although these sort of freedoms are fairly well known, other freedoms are not. The freedom of excellence is not as well known but it is just as important as the others. The freedom of excellence is the freedom to engage in a particular skill and do well in it.

Skills are many and varied. We can divide skills into two kinds. The first kind of skills we can call productive skills. These are the sort of skills used to make particular objects, buildings and technologies. So this would include skills of plumbing, electrical work, construction, rocket science and many others. The second kind of skills do not make anything. They perform a particular kind of action. We might call these active skills. These skills include the skills used by doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, hair stylists, actors and many others. These various skills sometimes require training and materials. Most importantly, these skills can be done either well or poorly.

Now most individuals want the freedom to engage in the sorts of skills (if any) that they choose. They do not want to have their occupation chosen for them. Neither do they want to be excluded from particular skills based on any non-moral consideration. The freedom of excellence just is this kind of freedom. Someone who has this kind of freedom is free to excel in whatever skills they wish to excel in. They can even choose to excel in few skills and spend their efforts on learning and understanding the world instead.

There are possibly two objections that could be raised against this sort of freedom. First, should we allow too many people to focus on one kind of skill? If we do, then society may be imbalanced. This may be true, but there is no reason to suppose that this kind of imbalance happens as easily as you can conceive it happening. Societal imbalance of this kind does not happen that often at all. Second, should some skills be restricted or controlled. For example, doctors and soldiers both use active skills. However, we do not let anyone practice those skills under any situation. Doctors can only practice with a license, and soldiers can only practice under the direction of the army. This is accurate and it is certainly a good idea. However, freedom of excellence does not imply that all skills will be equally easy to obtain. It only says that there will be no non-moral barriers to getting them. The restriction of doctors and soldiers skills are for moral reasons. Therefore, the restriction is not a restriction on anyone’s freedom.

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