Many policies with nontrivial points in their favour — as e.g. thorough environmental protection, public-dominant transportation, communal acoustic improvement — are swiftly rejected sith They Restrict Freedom, and People Value Freedom. (This objection is especially common in the US, but there's nothing intrinsically US-specific about this.) I don't intend to justify or criticise any particular such proposals. I target that swift general rejection, for it is, in many cases, based on a fallacious pattern.

In some cases, people are really rejecting the policy sith they tricked themselves into consistently supporting the opinions of one side, regardless of those opinions' basis in truth, and so I don't expect to fix those errors by reason. Those in other cases should consider the following.

Upon suggesting lesser freedom, some people assume the path towards particular low-freedom societies. They point to those dreadful examples of reduced freedom — (contemporary) China, North Korea, etc — and from there argue that any sufficient reductions of freedom lead to a miserable, enslaving society.

Some such objectors explicitly appealed to a spectrum of freedom, with total anarchy on one end and something like Nineteen Eighty-Four on the other end. Therein lies the confusion. Freedom and the lack thereof is not a line, but a cone. (This analogy isn't quite right. The correct analogy involves annoying combinatorics and isn't helpful enough to make up for it.)

cone as described in text

At the tip of the cone is total anarchy. At the base disk is a range of many types of restrictive societies, arising from many sets of things to restrict. Such objectors think of a single path from the tip to one point on the base. We who promote a restrictive policy intended a point in the cone entirely off that path.

That is, some reject restrictive-but-beneficial policies sith they notice that other salient restrictive policies have been reliably bad. They are told to consider reduced freedom, and jump to a particular bad form of reduced freedom.

Restriction directed by a "good" (citizen-aligned) government can be better than freedom. If you still think freedom is intrinsically valuable: what if you were allowed to do all that which you would want to do, but no more? Under such law, you would be clearly non-free, yet satisfied — perhaps more than in the current world — no? If you object sith that neglects the preferences of others, consider the same society but in which all citizens would want similar things to you.

Many of our current problems (as e.g. environmental destruction, inefficient transportation, ineffective science) arise as multipolar traps. The individual is incentivised to pursue that which harms everyone. Everyone following those incentives simultaneously makes life worse off for us all. A non-evil restrictive policy could restrict those tempting, harmful actions. Thence people don't induce tempting destruction, and accept this state, for they can no longer do otherwise.

Nonfreedom looks bad sith it's a convenient strategy for citizen-enslaving, ruler-benefitting governments. But it's also essential to the best strategies for a citizen-focused, honestly-run government. Reversed evil is not goodness. When you know the full details of the case (the real effects of a policy), do not judge it by a crude proxy variable (its reduction or preservation of freedom).

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> Therein lies the confusion. Freedom and the lack thereof is not a line, but a cone.

If I understand correctly, you're saying that in a space of societies there is a point of anarchy – no rules whatsoever – and you can add various restrictions of freedom, leading to different societies. In particular there are various possible societies with a given level of freedom (which is the y-axis in your cone drawing).

Please correct me if I got it wrong.

> e.g. thorough environmental protection, public-dominant transportation, communal acoustic improvement

Arguably, freedom the practical sense is different from simply "fewer restrictions" or y-axis of the cone. Often you can frame decisions as "freedom to" vs "freedom from":
* Freedom to take and use anything vs freedom to own private property.
* Freedom to enter binding contracts vs freedom to do whatever.
* Freedom to punch people in the face vs freedom to walk around safely.
* Freedom to have a loud party vs freedom to quietly enjoy your place.
* Freedom to talk on the phone on a train vs freedom from such disturbance.
* Freedom to cut down the forest vs freedom to walk in the forest.
* Freedom to pass through the land (right of way) vs freedom to use the land exclusively.

In other words, some things naturally understood as "freedoms" are practically and sometimes logically in conflict and the boundary needs to be put somewhere. Some of your examples might be like that. 

There are also cases where there is no such obvious trade-off against another kind of freedom (there might be other benefits – judgement is out of scope here), e.g.:
* Restrictions for no reason whatsoever. Hypothetically tomorrow blue t-shirts could be banned. 
* Protecting you against yourself, e.g. in the UK you usually can't just buy more than 2 small packs of Ibuprofen at a time (
* Not being allowed to criticize your government.

Freedom understood this way is not a single thing – more like a possibility space which can take different shapes. It is still useful to think of the greater and lesser freedom, but it is not maximized by absolute anarchy (which would be extremely short-lived anyway without at least enforced non-violence).

> Freedom is only instrumentally valuable

It seems quite reasonable to hold freedom in a more practical sense as a terminal value or nearly terminal value – closely related to such things like staying true to oneself, taking responsibility, pursuing one's own goals rather than someone else's, roaming free instead of being caged, resisting oppression, self-governance.


are swiftly rejected sith They Restrict Freedom

You use the word "sith" here a bunch and I'm not sure what you mean. Is this a jargon-term I'm missing, or was this a voice-memo-transcribed thing that happened to mistranscribe a word in a reliable way or something?


Nothing in the body of the post supports the claim in the title of the post that "freedom is only instrumentally valuable". Maybe it would be worthwhile dropping the claim in the title and just stating the actual subject, which appears to be the "cone" model?

Any argument about whether any particular value is "only instrumental" relies upon who holds the values under discussion. Some people do in fact support freedom as one of their terminal values, not just instrumental. Denying the existence of such people in the title and then not mentioning anything about the topic in the body is a pretty major disconnect.


downvoted for politics, and for unhelpful framing of freedom as a general thing, rather than what is generally meant "ability to do specific things that I want without being punished legally or socially".  Also "sith" seems to be an important word here, which isn't defined anywhere I can find, and seems to be a pretty dense cluster of ideas that pattern-matches to political terms that end up looking a lot like motte-and-bailey arguments when unpacked.

I was disappointed that it didn't engage at all with the title, which might be interesting.  Freedom, of course, isn't even instrumentally valuable if the specific constraints on freedom aren't binding.  "Freedom to do the optimum thing" isn't actually freedom in any useful sense.  Freedom to cause harm or freedom to waste or freedom to make moral or tactical errors is the important element of freedom, and it's absolutely useless and counterproductive to a Utilitarian (or other) optimizer.

Everything else being equal, fast agile decisionmaking is better than slow and blunt one. Freedom does not just mean freedom to do X today, it also means freedom to change our minds bout X tomorrow. Do not regulate X because freedom means, a,ong other things, not trusting X to be regulated in sensible ways, and trusting individuals self-organizing more. Not saying this is always a good choice, but the potential pitfalls of things like regulatory capture need to be acknowledged.