Critically examining the conceptions of freedom of some of the leading contemporary philosophers from Isaiah Berlin to Charles Taylor, Hans Blokland explores the value and significance that freedom has acquired in our political consciousness. He looks specifically at: positive and negative freedom freedom of the individual freedom and society emancipation and paternalism freedom and cultural politics On a theoretical level, Hans Blockland shows that it is possible to have a discussion and reach a consensus on the meaning of contested concepts such as freedom and autonomy. Crucially, he addresses the question of how this conception might be applied to the real world, offering practical ways of increasing individual freedom in modern liberal Western democracies. First published in Dutch in 1991 this book won the 'Pieter de la Court' award of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts Sciences and the 1992 political science award of the Netherlands Political Science Association. It has been extensively updated to include material from the United States, Great Britain, France and Sweden as well as from the Netherlands.