Do all people desire freedom? If we look at the history of civilization and at popular political movements over the last hundred years, argues Onkar Ghate, the answer is definitely no. The fact that freedom’s value is not self-evident underscores the importance of understanding its actual nature and value.

This lesson surveys the philosophical foundations of freedom as a moral and political ideal. What is the basic Enlightenment argument for liberty? Why couldn’t this argument withstand increasing attacks from nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinkers? Does Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism provide a new case for the ideals of the Enlightenment?