Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

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EricPH
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by EricPH »

GE Morton wrote: January 8th, 2022, 1:08 am If I had empathy for him, however, then of course I would feed him. But empathy is not rational reason for doing anything,
We always take time to speak with the homeless people we meet in the middle of the night. We can build relationships with them over months and sometimes years. In the early hours of this morning; we met a man who had been kicked out by his partner. He has been homeless for a couple of months. We met another lad possibly with learning difficulties or some kind of mental health problems. He had been living with his gran until she died recently, he was then made homeless. We help them with food, clothing and blankets. We also try and be a link between them and the various authorities who can support them.

Last year we journeyed with five men who had come out of prison; they each had a few pounds and nowhere to live. A couple of them were saying if they had nowhere to live when winter sets in; they would get arrested and sent back to prison. One man was admitted into hospital and afterwards was discharged back onto the streets. Some were alcoholics or drug addicts, but we are not in a place to judge them. We try desperately hard to affect change, and there are some limited opportunities.

We have helped to be a part of a few success stories over the years. We journeyed for a few months with one lady and ended up helping her with a deposit and a few bits to furnish her home. We said we don't want anything back from her. But when she sorts herself out; she can help another stranger and pass a kindness forwards. She went through open university and now helps people with mental health and drug problems.

Our kindness can also be used and abused, we understand this. But we still try and make a difference.
GE Morton
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by GE Morton »

Belindi wrote: January 8th, 2022, 5:44 am
You are unaware that the pleasant word 'liberty' has been smeared by right wing politicians.
No, I was not aware of that. Can you provide some examples?
"That is taking liberties , young man!" "libertarian" "We are at liberty to spend our earnings as we please."
Those are "smears" of the word "liberty"?

Ok . . . what would you count as a non-smear usage?
Your predilection for dictionaries may be blinding you to the meanings of social contexts which may change within an hour.
Well, if that is the case verbal communication will be impossible.
GE Morton
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by GE Morton »

EricPH wrote: January 8th, 2022, 10:45 am
GE Morton wrote: January 8th, 2022, 1:08 am If I had empathy for him, however, then of course I would feed him. But empathy is not rational reason for doing anything,
We always take time to speak with the homeless people we meet in the middle of the night. We can build relationships with them over months and sometimes years. In the early hours of this morning; we met a man who had been kicked out by his partner. He has been homeless for a couple of months. We met another lad possibly with learning difficulties or some kind of mental health problems. He had been living with his gran until she died recently, he was then made homeless. We help them with food, clothing and blankets. We also try and be a link between them and the various authorities who can support them.

Last year we journeyed with five men who had come out of prison; they each had a few pounds and nowhere to live. A couple of them were saying if they had nowhere to live when winter sets in; they would get arrested and sent back to prison. One man was admitted into hospital and afterwards was discharged back onto the streets. Some were alcoholics or drug addicts, but we are not in a place to judge them. We try desperately hard to affect change, and there are some limited opportunities.

We have helped to be a part of a few success stories over the years. We journeyed for a few months with one lady and ended up helping her with a deposit and a few bits to furnish her home. We said we don't want anything back from her. But when she sorts herself out; she can help another stranger and pass a kindness forwards. She went through open university and now helps people with mental health and drug problems.

Our kindness can also be used and abused, we understand this. But we still try and make a difference.
Nothing wrong with any of that, or any act of charity, as long as it is voluntary.
Belindi
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Belindi »

GE Morton wrote: January 8th, 2022, 12:25 pm
Belindi wrote: January 8th, 2022, 5:44 am
You are unaware that the pleasant word 'liberty' has been smeared by right wing politicians.
No, I was not aware of that. Can you provide some examples?
"That is taking liberties , young man!" "libertarian" "We are at liberty to spend our earnings as we please."
Those are "smears" of the word "liberty"?

Ok . . . what would you count as a non-smear usage?
Your predilection for dictionaries may be blinding you to the meanings of social contexts which may change within an hour.

Well, if that is the case verbal communication will be impossible.
I would count as a usage of 'liberty' which is not derogatory 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity'.Also to liberate and liberty have been used until recently to mean to free and freedom. However political libertarians have spun a new and unpleasant meaning.

I recommend you read sociolinguistics.
Ecurb
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Ecurb »

GE Morton wrote: January 7th, 2022, 10:09 pm

Only the Equal Agency postulate follows from the the foundation ("Fundamental Principle"), because the latter aims to advance the welfare of all agents. The others are free-standing and independently verifiable, logically or empirically. Which one(s) would you reject or question? Here are the ones I mentioned:

* Equal Agency postulate: All agents in the moral field have equal moral standing, which means that all are equally subject to whatever duties and constraints the theory generates, and the well-being of each has equal weight. There are no preferred classes or agents.

* Neutrality Postulate (corrollary of Equal Agency Postulate): The theory is neutral with respect to agent interests, and the interests of all agents have equal weight (since the well-being of an agent consists in satisfaction of his interests).

* Relativity postulate: What counts as a "good" or an "evil," and the values (positive or negative) thereof, are subjective and relative to agents.

* Postulate of Individuality: What are counted as "goods" and "evils" differs from agent to agent.

I'm not sure what your "Fundamental Principle" is. But if the "Equal Agency postulate" can be derivied from it, there must be something wrong with it. Every civilized society I know of correctly refuses to recognize "equal agency". Obviously, infants are (probably) not moral agents at all. As they mature, they proceed through stages of limited moral agency. Most children are tried (for example) in different courts and under different laws than adults. They are not exempt from the duties and constraints of moral agency, but neither are they imbued with "equal moral standing" with adults.

Question: Do you think this treatment of children is immoral and unfounded? Does a two-year-old have "equal moral agency" with an adult? Does he have no moral agency (in which case telling him "don't bite" would be silly)? How about a 10-year-old? How about mentally handicapped adults? How about intelligent non-human animals? Is it ludicrous to say, "Bad dog!"

I have problems with your other postulates, too, but let's deal with them one at a time.
GE Morton
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by GE Morton »

Belindi wrote: January 8th, 2022, 12:47 pm
I would count as a usage of 'liberty' which is not derogatory 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity'.Also to liberate and liberty have been used until recently to mean to free and freedom. However political libertarians have spun a new and unpleasant meaning.
Huh? I know of no libertarian who has ever used "liberty" to mean anything other than "free" or "freedom." Indeed, that is what we were debating in previous posts. What is this "new and unpleasant" meaning to which you refer?

But perhaps the disagreement is over the meaning of "freedom." I've given my definition of that word previously --- in political theory and philosophy, it denotes "political freedom": the freedom of each person to live his life in any manner he wishes, to "pursue happiness" as he defines it, without interference from other moral agents, as long as his actions in that pursuit do not inflict losses or injuries on any other moral agent.

That is pretty much how that word is understood by all libertarians and classical liberals, that I know of. Do you have some different understanding of it?
GE Morton
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by GE Morton »

Ecurb wrote: January 7th, 2022, 10:13 am
Oh come off your high horse, GE. My objection is clearly correct. FREEDOM is not "conceived" as being limited, it is only ADVOCATED inasmuch as it is limited.
Oh, stop. No one can "advocate" something without conceiving it first. Your claim was silly and now you're struggling to rationalize it.
Ecurb wrote: It is merely the case that freedom often should be limited -- all laws (and rights) limit it. The difference is that laws are passed with the consent of the people -- so at least one has a say in how one's freedom is limited.
Really? You suggest that whether others should be free to kill you should be determined by a public vote? You're advocating mob rule?

I don't think you really understand the concept of rights (or perhaps of moral constraints generally). If you have a right to something, or to do something, then morally speaking, you may keep it or do it no matter what "the public" wants or thinks. Popular decision-making is itself constrained by individual rights (that is the purpose of the US Bill of Rights).
You are prevaricating again, GE. This is gettng tedious. I advocated nothing of the sort.
Well, the above sure suggests otherwise. "So at least one has a say in how one's freedom is limited." That sure sounds like you consider that "say" to be a desirable thing. But not many people would agree, I think, that rapists are entitled to a "say" in whether they should permitted to rape, or thieves a "say" in whether they should be permitted to steal, even if rapists and thieves should become a majority in a democratic society.
I merely pointed out a difference between laws in a democratic society limiting freedom, and other things limiting freedom. How that "advocates" for the elimination of "rights" is unclear, unless, of course, you want to prevaricate and misrepresent my position for the sake of "winning" an argument. I made this clear by the words "at least".
Well, because people have no "say" in whether to violate rights, in a democratic society or any other human society --- or, at least, any morally justifiable "say." Laws in a democratic society have no more moral force, due to that mere fact, than laws in a dictatorship. Laws in democratic societies which violate rights are just as immoral as those decreed by a dictator. In short, who promulgates a law has no bearing on its moral defensibility.
This is ridiculous. Slavery (in addition to forcing others to labor) legally allows the owner to restrict the slave's freedom of movement. So do property rights. Therefore, property rights resemble slavery. This is obvious. It's not my fault that you have a one-track mind.
Egads. More irrelevant resemblances. The rules of chess restrict the player's movements. Traffic laws restrict drivers' movements. Laws against assault restrict people's movements, i.e., they forbid me from swinging my fist in such a way that it breaks your nose. Are chess players, drivers, fist-swingers thereby enslaved? Unless you can explain how any of those restrictions are immoral, the "resemblances" you cite are irrelevant.

The words "slavery" and "liberty" resemble each other in that both contain seven letters. Does that mean one implies the other?
Hmmm. Is being a citizen of a country a sort of contractual obligation?
No, it is not. There is no "social contract."
Are citizens who take advantage of the security the nation provides obliged to follow its laws?
They are obliged to obey its laws if, and only if, those laws are morally defensible. If they benefit from the security the government provides then they are also obligated to help pay for the machinery which supplies that security. Taking advantage of that security does not oblige them to obey any laws which violate their rights.
If so, aren't they obliged to pay taxes to support housing for the homeless, if the elected officials decide to spend the tax money thusly?
Answer implicit in comments above.
Fighting a revolution to oppose slavery is reasonable; fighting a revolution to oppose doling out some prefabricated huts to the homeless is obnoxious.
Suppose the slaves are employed, not to pick cotton, but to build prefabricated huts for the homeless. Is slavery then justifiable?
Ecurb
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Ecurb »

GE Morton wrote: January 8th, 2022, 2:46 pm

Oh, stop. No one can "advocate" something without conceiving it first. Your claim was silly and now you're struggling to rationalize it.


Well, the above sure suggests otherwise. "So at least one has a say in how one's freedom is limited." That sure sounds like you consider that "say" to be a desirable thing. But not many people would agree, I think, that rapists are entitled to a "say" in whether they should permitted to rape, or thieves a "say" in whether they should be permitted to steal, even if rapists and thieves should become a majority in a democratic society.

Well, because people have no "say" in whether to violate rights, in a democratic society or any other human society --- or, at least, any morally justifiable "say." Laws in a democratic society have no more moral force, due to that mere fact, than laws in a dictatorship. Laws in democratic societies which violate rights are just as immoral as those decreed by a dictator. In short, who promulgates a law has no bearing on its moral defensibility.
"Taxation without representation is tyranny." Do you agree? If taxation WITH representation differs from taxation WITHOUT representation then you agree with my position, which does not advocate any of the silly things you suggest it advocates. I agree that some violations of rights are immoral with or without democratic approval. I've so stated many times. So quit prevaricating about my position.
Egads. More irrelevant resemblances. The rules of chess restrict the player's movements. Traffic laws restrict drivers' movements. Laws against assault restrict people's movements, i.e., they forbid me from swinging my fist in such a way that it breaks your nose. Are chess players, drivers, fist-swingers thereby enslaved? Unless you can explain how any of those restrictions are immoral, the "resemblances" you cite are irrelevant.
You are being intentionally dense here, GE. Clearly the right to "liberty and the pursuit of happiness" involves freedom of movement. What else can "liberty" suggest? Property rights curtail one's liberty, and thus much they resemble slavery. Your notion that the evils of slavery consist only of laboring involuntarily for others is incorrect. If people have a "right" to freedom of movement, property rights (since they limit that right) resemble slavery by limiting freedom. If "liberty" is an "inalienable right", then a claim (which I will not make) that property rights are a form of slavery is just as reasonable as your claim about taxes.


Fighting a revolution to oppose slavery is reasonable; fighting a revolution to oppose doling out some prefabricated huts to the homeless is obnoxious.
Suppose the slaves are employed, not to pick cotton, but to build prefabricated huts for the homeless. Is slavery then justifiable?

Suppose instead that there are no slaves (despite freedom of movement being restricted by property law). Instead, there are relatively free people who pay taxes, vote for representatives who decide on the distribution of the tax money, and benefit from some (but not all) of the tax dollars. To call these people "slaves" is both an egregious exaggeration of the restrictions placed on them, and an egregious minimization of the evils of slavery. The evils of slavery do NOT consist solely of forced labor, as I've pointed out many times. If they did, your claims about paying taxes to provide housing or medicare would still be exaggerated and silly, but since the evils of slavery consist of many ADDITIONAL limits on the freedom of the enslaved, your comparison of tax-paying to slavery is simply ridiculous. The additional evils of slavery consist (among other things) of having no legal protection from being whipped, beaten, raped and killed by their owners; of being sold away from their families; and (as pointed out earlier) of having no freedom of movement. "Forced labor" is (perhaps) the least of these evils. You (amazingly) are making the same mistake Karl Marx did.
EricPH
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by EricPH »

GE Morton wrote: January 8th, 2022, 2:46 pm
Suppose the slaves are employed, not to pick cotton, but to build prefabricated huts for the homeless. Is slavery then justifiable?
Thanks for your suggestion. But what if homeless people were supported and encouraged to build prefabs for homeless people. I can think of so many benefits from such a scheme. I think people appreciate things more if they have to work for it.

What to do next?
GE Morton
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by GE Morton »

EricPH wrote: January 8th, 2022, 4:15 pm
Thanks for your suggestion. But what if homeless people were supported and encouraged to build prefabs for homeless people. I can think of so many benefits from such a scheme. I think people appreciate things more if they have to work for it.
Well, if people were supported and encouraged --- but not forced --- to build huts, those who did so would not be slaves.
GE Morton
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by GE Morton »

Ecurb wrote: January 8th, 2022, 12:56 pm
GE Morton wrote: January 7th, 2022, 10:09 pm
Only the Equal Agency postulate follows from the the foundation ("Fundamental Principle"), because the latter aims to advance the welfare of all agents. The others are free-standing and independently verifiable, logically or empirically. Which one(s) would you reject or question? Here are the ones I mentioned:

* Equal Agency postulate: All agents in the moral field have equal moral standing, which means that all are equally subject to whatever duties and constraints the theory generates, and the well-being of each has equal weight. There are no preferred classes or agents.

* Neutrality Postulate (corrollary of Equal Agency Postulate): The theory is neutral with respect to agent interests, and the interests of all agents have equal weight (since the well-being of an agent consists in satisfaction of his interests).

* Relativity postulate: What counts as a "good" or an "evil," and the values (positive or negative) thereof, are subjective and relative to agents.

* Postulate of Individuality: What are counted as "goods" and "evils" differs from agent to agent.
I'm not sure what your "Fundamental Principle" is. But if the "Equal Agency postulate" can be derivied from it, there must be something wrong with it. Every civilized society I know of correctly refuses to recognize "equal agency". Obviously, infants are (probably) not moral agents at all.
Er, you're not paying attention to what is said. That infants are not moral agents does not in the least indicate anything wrong with the Fundamental Principle, or the Equal Agency Postulate. The latter asserts nothing about infants, or any other non-moral agents.
As they mature, they proceed through stages of limited moral agency. Most children are tried (for example) in different courts and under different laws than adults. They are not exempt from the duties and constraints of moral agency, but neither are they imbued with "equal moral standing" with adults.
All quite right. Infants, some animals, and a few other categories of sentient creatures are moral subjects, not moral agents. A sound moral theory handles them differently. The Equal Agency postulate, however, the other postulates, and whatever principles and rules follow from them, apply only to agents, since, by hypothesis, other categories of sentient creatures, though they may have some moral status, are incapable of understanding or following them. (I think we've covered these issues before).

The Fundamental Principle, BTW, is simply a statement of the aim, or purpose, of (rational) moral codes and theories, which is to identify principles and rules of interaction between agents in a social setting which allow all agents, and perhaps certain other sentient creatures, to pursue, advance, and maximize their well-being.

{quote]Question: Do you think this treatment of children is immoral and unfounded?[/quote]

No.
Ecurb
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Ecurb »

GE Morton wrote: January 8th, 2022, 8:31 pm

Er, you're not paying attention to what is said. That infants are not moral agents does not in the least indicate anything wrong with the Fundamental Principle, or the Equal Agency Postulate. The latter asserts nothing about infants, or any other non-moral agents.

All quite right. Infants, some animals, and a few other categories of sentient creatures are moral subjects, not moral agents. A sound moral theory handles them differently. The Equal Agency postulate, however, the other postulates, and whatever principles and rules follow from them, apply only to agents, since, by hypothesis, other categories of sentient creatures, though they may have some moral status, are incapable of understanding or following them. (I think we've covered these issues before).

The Fundamental Principle, BTW, is simply a statement of the aim, or purpose, of (rational) moral codes and theories, which is to identify principles and rules of interaction between agents in a social setting which allow all agents, and perhaps certain other sentient creatures, to pursue, advance, and maximize their well-being.

You aren't paying attention to what I wrote. I agree that infants are not moral agents. Then, as they mature, they become moral agents. But when they are two, they are PARTIAL moral agents. They have some moral agency, but are not held to the same standards as adults. When they are ten, they have moved further in the direction of moral agency. Once again, however, they are not held to the same standard as adults. All of this seems not only fair and reasonable, but it contradicts:
* Equal Agency postulate: All agents in the moral field have equal moral standing, which means that all are equally subject to whatever duties and constraints the theory generates, and the well-being of each has equal weight. There are no preferred classes or agents.
Almost everyone agrees, for example, that a normal twelve-year-old is not subject to the same moral duties and constraints as an adult. That's why we try them in separate courts when they transgress. We can't expect FULL moral development from them, but we surely expect SOME moral duties and constraints. Of course I agree that children are ALSO moral subjects -- but surely you agree that there is no exact dividing line delineating the age at which a child becomes a moral agent, and IF you so agree, then you must also agree that the process of becoming a FULL moral agent must go through steps in which the child is a moral agent, but does not have "equal moral standing" with an adult (with regard to duties and constraints, not to his role as a moral subject).
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Sy Borg
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Sy Borg »

GE, this one slipped through the net when you became busy with multiple chats.
GE Morton wrote: January 8th, 2022, 1:08 am
Sy Borg wrote: January 8th, 2022, 12:24 amFeeding the hungry is no more related to moral philosophy than it is to biochemistry. Invoking an entire school of philosophy to deal with a simple case of empathy is akin to cracking a walnut with a sledgehammer.

If, say, your nephew was hungry, would you see it as ethical not to feed him if his parents could not afford to buy him food? After all, based on your previous postings, you would consider that feeding him would be worse than pointless, a facile short-term gesture that only encourages dependence in the long term.
Whether I would feed him would depend on the reason he is hungry, and also upon how close was our relationship. If he is hungry because he is a drug user and whatever money he manages to beg is spent on dope instead of food, then no, I would not feed him. Nor if he was a couch potato who preferred to spend his time playing video games rather than working. Nor if he is a nephew who lives on the other side of the country and whom I've never met.

If I had empathy for him, however, then of course I would feed him. But empathy is not rational reason for doing anything, any more than is any other subjective emotional impulse, and certainly not a reason for forcing someone else, who may not feel empathy for that person, to feed him.

What factors should enter into such decisions, and what motives are relevant, are the subject matter of moral philosophy.
I was thinking of a child. Would you feed him if his parents were drug addicts or couch potatoes?

I am thinking that empathy has to be taken into account rather than seen as a distraction from moral philosophy. Another example, perhaps more helpful (by all means, choose don't feel obliged to answer everything - I don't want to subject you to twenty questions :)

If you live in a tribe of five, if the least productive member is hungry, do you feed him or her?

What of a tribe of ten? Or twenty? Fifty? A hundred? I expect you would know them all, so empathy may well be a factor.
GE Morton
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by GE Morton »

Sy Borg wrote: January 8th, 2022, 11:46 pm
I was thinking of a child. Would you feed him if his parents were drug addicts or couch potatoes?
The bad habits of his parents would not be considered in deciding whether I would feed him or not. That decision would turn on my own relationship with the child and/or my proximity to him.

The proximity factor, BTW, is important in applying the Duty to Aid, that I described previously (in another thread). The "stringency" (J.J. Thomson's term) of one's moral duty to aid increases with proximity, e.g., if I come upon an injured person at an accident scene then that duty becomes very stringent if I am the only person in a position to help him. The rationale for that variation in stringency is that the Duty to Aid applies to all moral agents, so if Alfie is in a better position than Bruno to offer aid to Chauncey, Bruno may defer acting, at least until it becomes apparent that Alfie will not act.
I am thinking that empathy has to be taken into account rather than seen as a distraction from moral philosophy.
Empathy is a different motivator entirely. It is non-moral. One acts because he is emotionally driven to do so, not because he believes he has a moral duty to do so. Acts of charity motivated by empathy, rather than a sense of duty, are still morally acceptable, of course (though perhaps not as praiseworthy).
If you live in a tribe of five, if the least productive member is hungry, do you feed him or her?

What of a tribe of ten? Or twenty? Fifty? A hundred? I expect you would know them all, so empathy may well be a factor.
If I lived in a tribe, of any size (provided I had personal relationships with all other members), then I would almost certainly be inclined to feed another member of the tribe who could not feed himself, because I would have a personal interest in the welfare of all the other members. I would see them as bothers and sisters. That is the difference between tribal societies and civilized ones.
Belindi
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Re: Is being homeless a crime / should it be?

Post by Belindi »

GE Morton wrote: January 8th, 2022, 1:45 pm
Belindi wrote: January 8th, 2022, 12:47 pm
I would count as a usage of 'liberty' which is not derogatory 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity'.Also to liberate and liberty have been used until recently to mean to free and freedom. However political libertarians have spun a new and unpleasant meaning.
Huh? I know of no libertarian who has ever used "liberty" to mean anything other than "free" or "freedom." Indeed, that is what we were debating in previous posts. What is this "new and unpleasant" meaning to which you refer?

But perhaps the disagreement is over the meaning of "freedom." I've given my definition of that word previously --- in political theory and philosophy, it denotes "political freedom": the freedom of each person to live his life in any manner he wishes, to "pursue happiness" as he defines it, without interference from other moral agents, as long as his actions in that pursuit do not inflict losses or injuries on any other moral agent.

That is pretty much how that word is understood by all libertarians and classical liberals, that I know of. Do you have some different understanding of it?
The meanings of 'liberty' and 'freedom' are the uses of the words. The uses of the words always are within a social context. The political connotation of 'liberty' in recent years has been much influenced by right wing spin. So far , connotations of the word 'freedom' have not been been influenced by right wing spin doctors who are not enamoured of equality. Liberty and equality are recognised as mutually incompatible, whereas freedom and equality are compatible to a degree.
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