Liberating Constraint

A liberating constraint is what it sounds like--a rule or principle set in place which restricts one's freedom in one sense (or dimension), where the restriction allows greater freedom in another direction. If the ability to do B is conditioned on A being true; it may be difficult or impossible to do B (at a minimum, it must be ascertained that A is indeed true). If, however, a rule guarantees that A is true; then you are free to do B at your pleasure.

Of course, it may often be useful if A is indeed false; and the cost of forgoing B is frequently an acceptable price to pay.

Some consider this BondageAndDiscipline; others consider this enabling and enlightening.

A few examples in ComputerScience (the author does not necessarily agree with all of these):


OffTopic comment: this sounds like a pattern I've noticed in politics too. Conservatives want to restrict our use of drugs in order to liberate (improve) our health and safety; liberals want to restrict our use of guns and weapons to improve our health and safety. Free speech is restricted in that you can't get 10 people to yell FIRE in a theatre, and in some countries you cannot use hate speech or sell Mein Kampf books (some argue we should remove these restrictions to be truly free).
See also PrincipleOfLeastPower, GrandParadigmUnification, WaterbedTheory

EditText of this page (last edited March 5, 2013) or FindPage with title or text search