What does it mean to be a flourishing human in a Western liberal democracy in the twenty-first century? In Freedom, Progress, and Human Flourishing, Winton Bates aims to provide a better framework for thinking about the relationship between freedom, progress, and human flourishing. Bates asserts that freedom enables individuals to flourish in different ways without colliding, allows for a growth of opportunities, and supports personal development by enabling individuals to exercise self-direction. The importance of self-direction is a central theme in the book, and Bates explores throughout why wise and well-informed self-direction is integral to flourishing because it helps individuals attain health and longevity, positive human relationships, psychological well-being, and an ability to live in harmony with nature.
Winton Russell Bates is an Australian economist, with 50 years of work experience on public policy issues. He writes a blog titled, “Freedom and Flourishing.”
Chapter 1: Introduction
Part I: Freedom
Chapter 2: Why Freedom?
Chapter 3: Evolution of Ideas about Freedom
Part II: Progress
Chapter 4: The Meaning of Progress
Chapter 5: The Drivers of Progress
Chapter 6: Will Progress Continue?
Part III: Human flourishing
Chapter 7: The Challenge of Self-Direction
Chapter 8: Personal Development
Chapter 9: The Evolving Context of Individual Flourishing
Chapter 10: Conclusions
About the Author
Freedom, Progress, and Human Flourishing is a highly informed, but not an unduly technical, account of human flourishing and the need for a political/legal order that has the primary goal of protecting individual rights. This work is informed by not only philosophical but also by psychological and economic studies. This work provides an excellent entry point for deeper discussions of these fundamental claims.
With so much attention on identifying issues we should be unhappy about, Winton Bates' book is a welcome relief, given its emphasis on how much the lot of most people—particularly those in western liberal societies—has improved, why the improvements have taken place, and why they should continue. Its historical coverage of the philosophical issues underpinning the role of liberty in western progress should delight all serious thinkers.
This masterful feat of integration of a wide range of literature from philosophy, economics, political science, and the social sciences will inspire scholars to bring their disciplines together to advance the argument for a free society.