The Differences Between Positive And Negative Freedom Words | 5 Pages. Isaiah Berlin wrote a paper in highlighting the differences between positive and negative freedom. This topic has been a key division between political and moral philosophers for centuries. - This essay will focus on establishing an accurate definition of Negative Freedom and Positive Freedom and which one of the two should be valued more. In addition the latter part of the essay will focus on extrapolating a deductively sound rationale as to why one freedom should be valued over the other freedom. An IELTS model essay for positive or negative development questions. It is common in IELTS writing task 2 to be asked to choose either something is a positive or negative development or trend. Your task is to answer the question in the introduction and explain your answer in the body paragraphs. IELTS Positive &Essay Question. the differences between positive and negative freedom. This topic has been a key division between political and moral philosophers for centuries. Berlin compared and contrasted these two concepts and determined that in his view, negative freedom was “truer” and more humane than the positive view. The Between Positive And Negative Freedom Essay - Individuals have the ability to act or think as one wish, and pursue own interests by making own choices. However, there is a distinction between the two types of freedom.
- Positive or Negative Development: IELTS Model Essay
- Negative and Positive Freedom Essay
- Positive and Negative Liberty
Two Concepts of Liberty Imagine you are driving a car through town, and you come to a fork in the road. You turn left, but no one was forcing you to go one way or the other. Next you come to a crossroads. You turn right, but no one was preventing you from going left or straight on. There is no traffic to speak of and there are no diversions or police roadblocks. So you seem, as a driver, to be completely free. But this picture of your situation might change quite dramatically if we consider that the reason you went left and then right is that you're addicted to cigarettes and you're desperate to get to the tobacconists before it closes.
Rather than driving, you feel you are being driven, as your urge to smoke leads you uncontrollably to turn the wheel first to the left and then to the right. Moreover, you're perfectly aware that your turning right at the crossroads means you'll probably miss a train that was to take you to an appointment you care about very much.
You long to be free of this irrational desire that is not only threatening your longevity but is also stopping you right now from doing what you think you ought to be doing. This story gives us two contrasting ways of thinking of liberty. On the one hand, one can think of liberty as the absence of obstacles external to the agent. You are free if no one is stopping you from doing whatever you might want to do.
In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be free. On the other hand, one can think of liberty as the presence of control on the part of the agent. To be free, you must be self-determined, which is to say that you must be able to control your own destiny in your own interests.
In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be unfree: One might say that while on the first view liberty is simply about how many doors are open to the agent, on the second view it is more about going through the right doors for the right reasons. In a famous essay first published in , Isaiah Berlin called these two concepts of liberty negative and positive respectively Berlin It is useful to think of the difference between the two concepts in terms of the difference between factors that are external and factors that are internal to the agent.
While theorists of negative freedom are primarily interested in the degree to which individuals or groups suffer interference from external bodies, theorists of positive freedom are more attentive to the internal factors affecting the degree to which individuals or groups act autonomously.
Given this difference, one might be tempted to think that a political philosopher should concentrate exclusively on negative freedom, a concern with positive freedom being more relevant to psychology or individual morality than to political and social institutions. This, however, would be premature, for among the most hotly debated issues in political philosophy are the following: Is the positive concept of freedom a political concept?
Can individuals or groups achieve positive freedom through political action? Is it possible for the state to promote the positive freedom of citizens on their behalf? And if so, is it desirable for the state to do so? The classic texts in the history of western political thought are divided over how these questions should be answered: In its political form, positive freedom has often been thought of as necessarily achieved through a collectivity.
Put in the simplest terms, one might say that a democratic society is a free society because it is a self-determined society, and that a member of that society is free to the extent that he or she participates in its democratic process.
But there are also individualist applications of the concept of positive freedom. For example, it is sometimes said that a government should aim actively to create the conditions necessary for individuals to be self-sufficient or to achieve self-realization. The welfare state has sometimes been defended on this basis, as has the idea of a universal basic income.
The negative concept of freedom, on the other hand, is most commonly assumed in liberal defences of the constitutional liberties typical of liberal-democratic societies, such as freedom of movement, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, and in arguments against paternalist or moralist state intervention.
It is also often invoked in defences of the right to private property. This said, some philosophers have contested the claim that private property necessarily enhances negative liberty Cohen , , and still others have tried to show that negative liberty can ground a form of egalitarianism Steiner After Berlin, the most widely cited and best developed analyses of the negative concept of liberty include Hayek , Day , Oppenheim , Miller and Steiner Among the most prominent contemporary analyses of the positive concept of liberty are Milne , Gibbs , C.
Taylor and Christman , The Paradox of Positive Liberty Many liberals, including Berlin, have suggested that the positive concept of liberty carries with it a danger of authoritarianism.
Consider the fate of a permanent and oppressed minority. Because the members of this minority participate in a democratic process characterized by majority rule, they might be said to be free on the grounds that they are members of a society exercising self-control over its own affairs. But they are oppressed, and so are surely unfree.
Positive or Negative Development: IELTS Model Essay
Moreover, it is not necessary to see a society as democratic in order to see it as self-controlled; one might instead adopt an organic conception of society, according to which the collectivity is to be thought of as a living organism, and one might believe that this organism will only act rationally, will only be in control of itself, when its various parts are brought into line with some rational plan devised by its wise governors who, to extend the metaphor, might be thought of as the organism's brain.
In this case, even the majority might be oppressed in the name of liberty. Such justifications of oppression in the name of liberty are no mere products of the liberal imagination, for there are notorious historical examples of their endorsement by authoritarian political leaders.
Berlin, himself a liberal and writing during the cold war, was clearly moved by the way in which the apparently noble ideal of freedom as self-mastery or self-realization had been twisted and distorted by the totalitarian dictators of the twentieth century — most notably those of the Soviet Union — so as to claim that they, rather than the liberal West, were the true champions of freedom.
The slippery slope towards this paradoxical conclusion begins, according to Berlin, with the idea of a divided self. We can now enrich this story in a plausible way by adding that one of these selves — the keeper of appointments — is superior to the other: The higher self is the rational, reflecting self, the self that is capable of moral action and of taking responsibility for what she does. This is the true self, for rational reflection and moral responsibility are the features of humans that mark them off from other animals.
The lower self, on the other hand, is the self of the passions, of unreflecting desires and irrational impulses. One is free, then, when one's higher, rational self is in control and one is not a slave to one's passions or to one's merely empirical self. The next step down the slippery slope consists in pointing out that some individuals are more rational than others, and can therefore know best what is in their and others' rational interests.
This allows them to say that by forcing people less rational than themselves to do the rational thing and thus to realize their true selves, they are in fact liberating them from their merely empirical desires. The true interests of the individual are to be identified with the interests of this whole, and individuals can and should be coerced into fulfilling these interests, for they would not resist coercion if they were as rational and wise as their coercers.
Those in the negative camp try to cut off this line of reasoning at the first step, by denying that there is any necessary relation between one's freedom and one's desires. Since one is free to the extent that one is externally unprevented from doing things, they say, one can be free to do what one does not desire to do. If being free meant being unprevented from realizing one's desires, then one could, again paradoxically, reduce one's unfreedom by coming to desire fewer of the things one is unfree to do.
One could become free simply by contenting oneself with one's situation.
Negative and Positive Freedom Essay
A perfectly contented slave is perfectly free to realize all of her desires. Nevertheless, we tend to think of slavery as the opposite of freedom. More generally, freedom is not to be confused with happiness, for in logical terms there is nothing to stop a free person from being unhappy or an unfree person from being happy.
The happy person might feel free, but whether they are free is another matter Day, Negative theorists of freedom therefore tend to say not that having freedom means being unprevented from doing as one desires, but that it means being unprevented from doing whatever one might desire to do Steiner Van Parijs ; Sugden Some theorists of positive freedom bite the bullet and say that the contented slave is indeed free — that in order to be free the individual must learn, not so much to dominate certain merely empirical desires, but to rid herself of them.
She must, in other words, remove as many of her desires as possible. One is to heal the wound. But if the cure is too difficult or uncertain, there is another method. This is the strategy of liberation adopted by ascetics, stoics and Buddhist sages. But this state, even if it can be achieved, is not one that liberals would want to call one of freedom, for it again risks masking important forms of oppression. It is, after all, often in coming to terms with excessive external limitations in society that individuals retreat into themselves, pretending to themselves that they do not really desire the worldly goods or pleasures they have been denied.
Moreover, the removal of desires may also be an effect of outside forces, such as brainwashing, which we should hardly want to call a realization of freedom. Because the concept of negative freedom concentrates on the external sphere in which individuals interact, it seems to provide a better guarantee against the dangers of paternalism and authoritarianism perceived by Berlin. To promote negative freedom is to promote the existence of a sphere of action within which the individual is sovereign, and within which she can pursue her own projects subject only to the constraint that she respect the spheres of others.
Humboldt and Mill, both advocates of negative freedom, compared the development of an individual to that of a plant: Personal growth is something that cannot be imposed from without, but must come from within the individual. Two Attempts to Create a Third Way Critics, however, have objected that the ideal described by Humboldt and Mill looks much more like a positive concept of liberty than a negative one. Positive liberty consists, they say, in exactly this growth of the individual: This is not liberty as the mere absence of obstacles, but liberty as autonomy or self-realization.
Why should the mere absence of state interference be thought to guarantee such growth? Is there not some third way between the extremes of totalitarianism and the minimal state of the classical liberals — some non-paternalist, non-authoritarian means by which positive liberty in the above sense can be actively promoted?
John Christman , , , for example, has argued that positive liberty concerns the ways in which desires are formed — whether as a result of rational reflection on all the options available, or as a result of pressure, manipulation or ignorance.
What it does not regard, he says, is the content of an individual's desires. The promotion of positive freedom need not therefore involve the claim that there is only one right answer to the question of how a person should live, nor need it allow, or even be compatible with, a society forcing its members into given patterns of behavior.
Positive and Negative Liberty
Take the example of a Muslim woman who claims to espouse the fundamentalist doctrines generally followed by her family and the community in which she lives. On Christman's account, this person is positively unfree if her desire to conform was somehow oppressively imposed upon her through indoctrination, manipulation or deceit. She is positively free, on the other hand, if she arrived at her desire to conform while aware of other reasonable options and she weighed and assessed these other options rationally.
Even if this woman seems to have a preference for subservient behavior, there is nothing necessarily freedom-enhancing or freedom-restricting about her having the desires she has, since freedom regards not the content of these desires but their mode of formation. On this view, forcing her to do certain things rather than others can never make her more free, and Berlin's paradox of positive freedom would seem to have been avoided.
It remains to be seen, however, just what a state can do, in practice, to promote positive liberty in Christman's sense without encroaching on any individual's sphere of negative liberty: Even if we rule out coercing individuals into specific patterns of behavior, a state interested in promoting autonomy in Christman's sense might still be allowed considerable space for intervention of an informative and educational nature, perhaps subsidizing some activities in order to encourage a plurality of genuine options and financing this through taxation.
Liberals might criticize this on anti-paternalist grounds, objecting that such measures will require the state to use resources in ways that the supposedly heteronomous individuals, if left to themselves, might have chosen to spend in other ways. Some liberals will make an exception in the case of the education of children in such a way as to cultivate open minds and rational reflection , but even here other liberals will object that the right to negative liberty includes the right to decide how one's children should be educated.
These conditions may include the presence of a democratic constitution and a series of safeguards against a government wielding power arbitrarily, including the separation of powers and the exercise of civic virtues on the part of citizens. As Berlin admits, on the negative view, I am free even if I live in a dictatorship just as long as the dictator happens, on a whim, not to interfere with me see also Hayek There is no necessary connection between negative liberty and any particular form of government.
On the alternative view sketched here, I am free only if I live in a society with the kinds of political institutions that guarantee the independence of each citizen from exercises of arbitrary power.