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The Positives And Negatives Freedom And Liberty

1738 words - 7 pages

Introduction What began with a simple distinction between two concepts of freedom has progressed from this to the recognition that freedom might be defined in any number of ways, depending on how one interprets the three variables of agent, constraints, and purposes. Freedom is often spoken of in a very loose sense, Isaiah Berlin in his writings endeavored to point out the two types of liberty, positive and negative, that exist within society. This essay will compare and contrast the concept of positive and negative liberty and conclude which out of the two, is that of the better view.The Structure of this Essay I will commence by giving a brief history on the development of the concepts of positive and negative liberty, noting relevant philosophers and theories to give the reader a greater insight into its origins. This section will be followed by the clarification of the definitions I will be using throughout the essay. Following this will be my argument on why I believe negative liberty is that of the better of view, taking into account relevant debates on the topic and that of my own opinions. I will then conclude with a summation of the essays main points and argument.The History of Positive and Negative Liberty On the 4th of July in the year of 1884 the Statue of Liberty was given to the United States of America by France as homage to their nation and its liberal constitution. Internationally renowned, she is one of the most universal symbols of political freedom and democracy (http://library.thinkquest.org/20619/Sthist.html?tqskip1=1, 2004). However, the world in which she resides has changed drastically since her conception. First of all we must look at what liberty means in society. Liberty can be defined as acting in whatever way you see fit for satisfying your own interests, desires and expectations to the extent that you don?t infringe upon the very same liberties of others (Berlin, 2002).The concept of distinguishing between a negative and positive sense of the term ?liberty?, while previously lauded by other writers, was examined a length by Isaiah Berlin during the 1950?s and 60?s. Publishing several significant essays on the concept, Two Concepts of Liberty explores the meanings and identification of positive and negative liberty present within society and the direct on indirect effects they have on its individuals. Berlin showed that negative and positive liberty are more than two distinct kinds of liberty, they can be seen as rival, incompatible interpretations of a single political ideal (Berlin, 2002).Positive and Negative Liberty Explained In Berlin?s own words, we use the negative concept of liberty in attempting to answer the question ?What is the area within which the subject is or should be left to do or be and what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?? Alternately the positive concept is used to answer, ?What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or...

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