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In conclusion, security is the precondition of political freedom and political freedom is the prerequisite for economic freedom.

Do precondition and prerequisite mean the same in the above? Is there a difference?

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What’s an above? :) – tchrist Feb 24 '13 at 20:37

They do appear to mean the same thing. With apologies for borrowing from the usage of precondition in computer programming, there may be a slight difference.

A precondition must be 'true' for the ensuing process, but may not be a process in itself. A prerequisite, on the other hand, is a process by itself that must have been achieved and completed before the next process starts.

In the example you cite, the precondition must be true but is not necessarily a completed process or it may have other co-requisite ingredients or conditions. The latter part of the sentence is definitely more definite.

Hoping that it makes some sense!

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“A prerequisite, on the other hand, is a process by itself” is incorrect, or at least misleading. For example, in “A million-dollar bond is prerequisite for bidding”, the “million-dollar bond” is a condition, not a process as such. – jwpat7 Feb 24 '13 at 20:06

It is possible the speech writer /author just want to use a different word instead of repeating the same word. It may be a "distinction without a difference."

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