Modern Conceptions of Freedom

A slim smartly-dressed young man, with wavy black hair, stands behind an ornate chair.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 - 1859) was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America, a two-volume study of the American people and their political institutions. (This image is in the public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2013



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Course Description

This course examines the modern definition of freedom, and the obligations that people accept in honoring it. It investigates how these obligations are captured in the principles of our political associations. This course also studies how the centrality of freedom plays out in the political thought of such authors as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke and Montesquieu, as well as debating which notions of freedom inspire and sustain the American experiment by careful reading of the documents and arguments of the founding of the United States.

This course is part of the Concourse program at MIT.

Linda Rabieh. CC.111 Modern Conceptions of Freedom, Spring 2013. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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