Friday, April 19, 2024

David Kinley's "The Liberty Paradox"

David Kinley is the inaugural Chair of Human Rights Law at the University of Sydney, a founding member of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and an Expert Member of Doughty Street Chambers in London. He is the author of Necessary Evil: How to Fix Finance by Saving Human Rights and the coauthor of The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Kinley applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Liberty Paradox: Living with the Responsibilities of Freedom, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Liberty Paradox deals with happiness. What are our freedoms and responsibilities in its pursuit and how do we negotiate them individually and collectively?

Specifically, the page tells us that in handling “the slings and arrows of fortune, however outrageous,” our “capacity for adaptation” is critical to securing happiness. And adaptation, in turn, boils down to how well we manage expectations, not only in the banality of everyday existence but also when fate changes our circumstances extraordinarily. One might suppose, for example, that winning the lottery or suffering a paralyzing injury will inexorably, fundamentally, and lastingly change our levels of happiness. Yet that appears not to be the case in practice. Apparently, we all have what psychologists call a set point of happiness, “to which we nearly always return, regardless of what befalls us in the meantime.” As a result, counterintuitively, “the world is not short of wealthy whingers and paralyzed optimists.”

In terms of the book’s central argument – that liberty’s paradox lies in it necessarily comprising both freedom and responsibility – page 99 reflects one of the enduring conundrums of that relationship. Namely, that while our freedom to choose what makes us happy is always hemmed in by our commensurate responsibility to recognize and respect our neighbor’s freedom to do the same (and all that delicate equilibrium entails), each of us also possesses personal predilections for self-awareness, empathy, and law-abidingness that significantly influence how we process the relationship internally and how we express it publicly. In this respect, much the same can said of the other realms of human life covered in the book – health, wealth, work, security, voice, love, and death. Liberty while living in the company of others is a bargain into which all of us must enter for each of us to enjoy.
Learn more about The Liberty Paradox at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue