Freedom, refers, in a very general sense, to the state of being free (unrestricted, unconfined or unfettered). The French philosopher Rousseau asserted that the condition of freedom was inherent to humanity, an inevitable facet of the possession of a soul and sapience, with the implication that all social interactions subsequent to birth imply a loss of freedom, voluntary or involuntary: "All men are born free, and yet everywhere lie in chains."
The following are specific examples of its usage:
- Political freedom is the absence of political restraints, particularly with respect to speech, religious practice, and the press.
- Freedom of a person refers to not being in prison as well as not being a victim of false imprisonment.
- Economic freedom means having more choices due to being wealthy or having more economic choices and not being subject to very many natural or institutional constraints. A monopolistic firm has more freedom to set prices than does a firm in a perfectly competitive market. One with more net worth has more freedom than one without any. See economic power.
- software freedom or other freedom of information (or ideas); i.e.: software (or information) being free of practical or (more commonly) legal restrictions on its use, modification, distribution and (less often restricted) creation.
- freedom of expression (or speech) is similar to software freedom, but refers to a general lack of such restrictions (on the creation, use, modification and dissemination of ideas) in a society by the government or those that hold power in that society.
- being not in any relationship (be it a romantic relationship or a cooperative, for example), free to do what one wants, including starting a new relationship or having relationship tests (like one-night-stands, casual physical intimacy, etc).
- coming of age and leaving one's parents' home
- freedom of choice i.e. free will
- the absence of interactions in physics; for example, asymptotic freedom discovered by David Gross, David Politzer, and Frank Wilczek
It is also the name of a British newspaper, an album by Neil Young, two otherwise unrelated songs by Richie Havens and Rage Against the Machine, and small towns in New York, New Hampshire and Wyoming.
Political philosopher Gerald MacCallum designed the following concept of freedom, allowing for its 'fleshing out' into many different conceptions: "X is free/not free from Y to do/not do/become/not become Z"
The Eagles: "Freedom? Oh, freedom, that's just some people talking, you're in chains while you walk through this life on your own."