Civic Flourishing and Individual Freedom: The Political Tension




Smith, Natalie

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Which is more important: a perfectly flourishing city or a perfectly free individual? All societies at all times and in all places deal with this tension. This thesis looks at thinkers who have answered this question at different points along a political continuum. Plato’s Republic can serve as a thought experiment that allows us to look at the civic end of the continuum. On the other, individualistic end, I look at both J.S. Mill’s On Liberty and F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom as descriptions of different ways to orient society solely for the purpose of increasing individual freedom. Near the middle of these two extremes lies the society that I find Socrates imagining in the Apology and the Crito. The primary purpose of this thesis is to analyze these various points along this continuum between civic health and individual freedom.



Political philosophy., Plato., Hayeck., John Stuart Mill.