Positive liberty

Positive liberty is the possession of the capacity to act upon one's free will, as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from external restraint on one's actions.[1] A concept of positive liberty may also include freedom from internal constraints.[2]

The concepts of structure and agency are central to the concept of positive liberty because in order to be free, a person should be free from inhibitions of the social structure in carrying out their free will. Structurally, classism, sexism, ageism, ableism and racism can inhibit a person's freedom. As positive liberty is primarily concerned with the possession of sociological agency, it is enhanced by the ability of citizens to participate in government and have their voices, interests, and concerns recognized and acted upon.

Although Isaiah Berlin's essay "Two Concepts of Liberty" (1958) is typically acknowledged as the first to explicitly draw the distinction between positive and negative liberty, Frankfurt School psychoanalyst and Marxist humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm drew a similar distinction between negative and positive freedom in The Fear of Freedom (1941), predating Berlin's essay by more than a decade.

Overview

The word liberty can refer to many things, but Isaiah Berlin recognized two main types of liberty. Berlin described a statement such as "I am slave to no man" as one of negative liberty, that is, freedom from another individual's direct interference. He contrasted this with a Positive Freedom statement such as "I am my own master", which lays claim to a freedom to choose one's own pursuits in life.[2]

Charles Taylor sees Negative Freedom as an "opportunity-concept": one possesses Negative Freedom if one is not enslaved by external forces, and has equal access to a society's resources (regardless of how one decides to spend their time). Positive Freedom, says Taylor, is an "exercise-concept": possessing it might mean that one is not internally constrained; one must be able to act according to their highest self – according to reason.[2] Suppose a rich and powerful actor is also a drug addict. This actor may possess a great deal of negative liberty, but very little Positive Liberty according to Taylor. By Taylor's definitions, Positive Freedom entails being in a mature state of decision making, free of internal or external restraints (e.g. weakness, fear, ignorance, etc.).[2]

History

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theory of freedom, according to which individual freedom is achieved through participation in the process whereby one's community exercises collective control over its own affairs in accordance with the "general will".[3] Some interpret The Social Contract to suggest that Rousseau believed that liberty was the power of individual citizens to act in the government to bring about changes; this is essentially the power for self-governance and democracy. Rousseau himself said, "the mere impulse to appetite is slavery, while obedience to law we prescribe ourselves is liberty."[4] For Rousseau, the passage from the state of nature to the civil state substitutes justice for instinct gives his actions the morality they had formerly lacked.[5]

G. F. W. Hegel wrote in his Elements of the Philosophy of Right (in the part in which he introduced the concept of the sphere of abstract right) that "duty is not a restriction on freedom, but only on freedom in the abstract" and that "duty is the attainment of our essence, the winning of positive freedom.[6]

Examples

In the description of positive liberty from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

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.[3]

In "Recovering the Social Contract", Ron Replogle made a metaphor that is helpful in understanding positive liberty. "Surely, it is no assault on my dignity as a person if you take my car keys, against my will, when I have had too much to drink. There is nothing paradoxical about making an agreement beforehand providing for paternalistic supervision in circumstances when our competence is open to doubt."[7] In this sense, positive liberty is the adherence to a set of rules agreed upon by all parties involved. Should the rules be altered, all parties involved must agree upon the changes. Therefore, positive liberty is a contractarian philosophy.

However, Isaiah Berlin opposed any suggestion that paternalism and positive liberty could be equivalent.[8] He stated that positive liberty could only apply when the withdrawal of liberty from an individual was in pursuit of a choice that individual himself/herself made, not a general principle of society or any other person's opinion. In the case where a person removes a driver's car keys against their will because they have had too much to drink, this constitutes positive freedom only if the driver has made, of their own free will, an earlier decision not to drive drunk. Thus, by removing the keys, the other person facilitates this decision and ensures that it will be upheld in the face of paradoxical behaviour (i.e., drinking) by the driver. For the remover to remove the keys in the absence of such an expressed intent by the driver, because the remover feels that the driver ought not to drive drunk, is paternalism, and not positive freedom by Berlin's definition.[8]

Erich Fromm sees the distinction between the two types of freedom emerging alongside humanity's evolution away from the instinctual activity that characterizes lower animal forms. This aspect of freedom, he argues, "is here used not in its positive sense of 'freedom to' but in its negative sense of 'freedom from', namely freedom from instinctual determination of his actions."[9] For Fromm, freedom from animal instinct implicitly implies that survival now hinges on the necessity of charting one's own course. He relates this distinction to the biblical story of man's expulsion from Eden:

Acting against God's orders means freeing himself from coercion, emerging from the unconscious existence of prehuman life to the level of man. Acting against the command of authority, committing a sin, is in its positive human aspect the first act of freedom. [...] he is free from the bondage of paradise, but he is not free to govern himself, to realize his individuality.[10]

Positive freedom, Fromm maintains, comes through the actualization of individuality in balance with the separation from the whole: a "solidarity with all men", united not by instinctual or predetermined ties, but on the basis of a freedom founded on reason.[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ Berlin, Isaiah. Four Essays on Liberty. 1969.
  2. ^ a b c d Taylor, C. What's Wrong with Negative Liberty, 1985. Law and Morality. 3rd ed. Ed. David Dyzenhaus, Sophia Reibetanz Moreau and Arthur Ripstein. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2008. 359–368. Print.
  3. ^ a b Carter, Ian. "Positive and Negative Liberty". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  4. ^ Rousseau as quoted by Replogle, Ron. Recovering the Social Contract. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (1989), p. 105.
  5. ^ Michael Rosen, Jonathan Wolff, Catriona McKinnon (eds.), Political Thought, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 63.
  6. ^ George Klosko, History of Political Theory: An Introduction: Volume II: Modern (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 465: "we should note that Hegel's realization of the distance between his own and the traditional liberal conception of freedom, which he calls "abstract freedom," is clear in his embrace of positive freedom [in PR §149A]".
  7. ^ Replogle, Ron. Recovering the Social Contract. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (1989). p. 164.
  8. ^ a b "Open Learning – OpenLearn". Openlearn.open.ac.uk. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  9. ^ Erich Fromm, The Fear of Freedom (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1966), p. 26.
  10. ^ Erich Fromm, The Fear of Freedom, pp. 27–28.
  11. ^ Erich Fromm, The Fear of Freedom, p. 29.

Further reading

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE; French: Alliance des Démocrates et des Libéraux pour l'Europe, ADLE) is a transnational alliance between two European political parties, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (formerly known as the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party) and the European Democratic Party. It has political groups in the European Parliament, the EU Committee of the Regions, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. There are assorted independents in these groups.

The pro-European platform of ALDE espouses liberal economics, and support for European integration and the European single market.

Civil libertarianism

Civil libertarianism is a strain of political thought that supports civil liberties, or which emphasizes the supremacy of individual rights and personal freedoms over and against any kind of authority (such as a state, a corporation, social norms imposed through peer pressure and so on). Civil libertarianism is not a complete ideology—rather, it is a collection of views on the specific issues of civil liberties and civil rights.

Civil liberties

Civil liberties or personal freedoms are personal guarantees and freedoms that the government cannot abridge, either by law or by judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may include the freedom of conscience, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to security and liberty, freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to equal treatment under the law and due process, the right to a fair trial, and the right to life. Other civil liberties include the right to own property, the right to defend oneself, and the right to bodily integrity. Within the distinctions between civil liberties and other types of liberty, distinctions exist between positive liberty/positive rights and negative liberty/negative rights.

Classical republicanism

Classical republicanism, also known as civic republicanism or civic humanism, is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity, especially such classical writers as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero. Classical republicanism is built around concepts such as civil society, civic virtue and mixed government.

Freedom of assembly

Freedom of peaceful assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right or ability of people to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue, and defend their collective or shared ideas. The right to freedom of association is recognized as a human right, a political right and a civil liberty.

The terms freedom of assembly and freedom of association may be used to distinguish between the freedom to assemble in public places and the freedom to join an association. Freedom of assembly is often used in the context of the right to protest, while freedom of association is used in the context of labor rights and in the Constitution of the United States is interpreted to mean both the freedom to assemble and the freedom to join an association.The United States Constitution explicitly provides for 'the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances' in the First Amendment.

Gerald C. MacCallum Jr.

Gerald C. MacCallum Jr. (June 16, 1925 – January 14, 1987) was an American philosopher. He was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.MacCallum is well known for his critique to the distinction, made famous by Isaiah Berlin, between negative and positive liberty, proposing instead that the concept of freedom can only be understood as a 'triadic relation', in which "x is (is not) free from y to do (not do, become, not become) z".

Gratis versus libre

The English adjective free is commonly used in one of two meanings: "for free" (gratis) and "with little or no restriction" (libre). This ambiguity of free can cause issues where the distinction is important, as it often is in dealing with laws concerning the use of information, such as copyright and patents.

The terms gratis and libre may be used to categorise intellectual property, particularly computer programs, according to the licenses and legal restrictions that cover them, in the free software and open source communities, as well as the broader free culture movement. For example, they are used to distinguish freeware (software gratis) from free software (software libre).

Richard Stallman summarised the difference in a slogan: "Think free as in free speech, not free beer."

Liberal internationalism

Liberal internationalism is a foreign policy doctrine that argues that liberal states should intervene in other sovereign states in order to pursue liberal objectives. Such intervention can include both military invasion and humanitarian aid. This view is contrasted to isolationist, realist, or non-interventionist foreign policy doctrines; these critics characterize it as liberal interventionism.

Liberalism

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support civil rights, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and free markets.Liberalism became a distinct movement in the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among Western philosophers and economists. Liberalism sought to replace the norms of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings and traditional conservatism with representative democracy and the rule of law. Liberals also ended mercantilist policies, royal monopolies and other barriers to trade, instead promoting free markets. Philosopher John Locke is often credited with founding liberalism as a distinct tradition, arguing that each man has a natural right to life, liberty and property, adding that governments must not violate these rights based on the social contract. While the British liberal tradition has emphasised expanding democracy, French liberalism has emphasised rejecting authoritarianism and is linked to nation-building.Leaders in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789 used liberal philosophy to justify the armed overthrow of royal tyranny. Liberalism started to spread rapidly especially after the French Revolution. The 19th century saw liberal governments established in nations across Europe and South America, whereas it was well-established alongside republicanism in the United States. In Victorian Britain, it was used to critique the political establishment, appealing to science and reason on behalf of the people. During 19th and early 20th century, liberalism in the Ottoman Empire and Middle East influenced periods of reform such as the Tanzimat and Al-Nahda as well as the rise of secularism, constitutionalism and nationalism. These changes, along with other factors, helped to create a sense of crisis within Islam, which continues to this day, leading to Islamic revivalism. Before 1920, the main ideological opponent of classical liberalism was conservatism, but liberalism then faced major ideological challenges from new opponents: fascism and communism. However, during the 20th century liberal ideas also spread even further—especially in Western Europe—as liberal democracies found themselves on the winning side in both world wars.In Europe and North America, the establishment of social liberalism (often called simply "liberalism" in the United States) became a key component in the expansion of the welfare state. Today, liberal parties continue to wield power and influence throughout the world. However, liberalism still has challenges to overcome in Africa and Asia. The fundamental elements of contemporary society have liberal roots. The early waves of liberalism popularised economic individualism while expanding constitutional government and parliamentary authority. Liberals sought and established a constitutional order that prized important individual freedoms, such as freedom of speech and freedom of association; an independent judiciary and public trial by jury; and the abolition of aristocratic privileges. Later waves of modern liberal thought and struggle were strongly influenced by the need to expand civil rights. Liberals have advocated gender and racial equality in their drive to promote civil rights and a global civil rights movement in the 20th century achieved several objectives towards both goals. Continental European liberalism is divided between moderates and progressives, with the moderates tending to elitism and the progressives supporting the universalisation of fundamental institutions, such as universal suffrage, universal education and the expansion of property rights. Over time, the moderates displaced the progressives as the main guardians of continental European liberalism.

Liberalism in Bolivia

This article gives an overview of liberal parties in Bolivia. It is limited to liberal parties with substantial support, mainly proved by having had a representation in parliament. The sign ⇒ means a reference to another party in that scheme. For inclusion in this scheme it isn't necessary so that parties labeled themselves as a liberal party.

Liberalism in Montenegro

This article gives an overview of liberalism in Montenegro. It is limited to liberal parties with substantial support, mostly limited to parties with parliamentary status

Liberty

Broadly speaking, liberty (Latin: Libertas) is the ability to do as one pleases. In politics, liberty consists of the social, political, and economic freedoms to which all community members are entitled. In philosophy, liberty involves free will as contrasted with determinism. In theology, liberty is freedom from the effects of "sin, spiritual servitude, [or] worldly ties."Sometimes liberty is differentiated from freedom by using the word "freedom" primarily, if not exclusively, to mean the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; and using the word "liberty" to mean the absence of arbitrary restraints, taking into account the rights of all involved. In this sense, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others. Thus liberty entails the responsible use of freedom under the rule of law without depriving anyone else of their freedom. Freedom is more broad in that it represents a total lack of restraint or the unrestrained ability to fulfill one's desires. For example, a person can have the freedom to murder, but not have the liberty to murder, as the latter example deprives others of their right not to be harmed. Liberty can be taken away as a form of punishment. In many countries, people can be deprived of their liberty if they are convicted of criminal acts.

The word "liberty" is often used in slogans, such as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" or "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity".

Liberty (goddess)

Liberty is a loose term in English for the goddess or personification of the concept of liberty, and is represented by the Roman Goddess Libertas, by Marianne, the national symbol of France, and by many others.

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi is a well-known example in art, a gift from France to the United States.

Morphological freedom

Morphological freedom refers to a proposed civil right of a person to either maintain or modify their own body, on their own terms, through informed, consensual recourse to, or refusal of, available therapeutic or enabling medical technology.The term may have been coined by transhumanist Max More in his 1993 article, Technological Self-Transformation: Expanding Personal Extropy, where he defined it as "the ability to alter bodily form at will through technologies such as surgery, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, uploading". The term was later used by science debater Anders Sandberg as "an extension of one’s right to one’s body, not just self-ownership but also the right to modify oneself according to one’s desires."

Negative liberty

Negative liberty is freedom from interference by other people. Negative liberty is primarily concerned with freedom from external restraint and contrasts with positive liberty (the possession of the power and resources to fulfil one's own potential). The distinction was introduced by Isaiah Berlin in his 1958 lecture "Two Concepts of Liberty".

Political freedom

Political freedom (also known as political autonomy or political agency) is a central concept in history and political thought and one of the most important features of democratic societies. Political freedom was described as freedom from oppression or coercion, the absence of disabling conditions for an individual and the fulfillment of enabling conditions, or the absence of life conditions of compulsion, e.g. economic compulsion, in a society. Although political freedom is often interpreted negatively as the freedom from unreasonable external constraints on action, it can also refer to the positive exercise of rights, capacities and possibilities for action and the exercise of social or group rights. The concept can also include freedom from internal constraints on political action or speech (e.g. social conformity, consistency, or inauthentic behaviour). The concept of political freedom is closely connected with the concepts of civil liberties and human rights, which in democratic societies are usually afforded legal protection from the state.

Popular sovereignty

Popular sovereignty, or sovereignty of the peoples' rule, is the principle that the authority of a state and its government are created and sustained by the consent of its people, through their elected representatives (Rule by the People), who is the source of all political power. It is closely associated with social contract philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Popular sovereignty expresses a concept and does not necessarily reflect or describe a political reality. The people have the final say in government decisions. Benjamin Franklin expressed the concept when he wrote, "In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns".Americans founded their Revolution and government on popular sovereignty, but the term was also used in the 1850s to describe a highly controversial approach to slavery in the territories as propounded by senator Stephen A. Douglas. It meant that local residents of a territory would be the ones to decide if slavery would be permitted, and it led to bloody warfare in Bleeding Kansas as abolitionists and proponents of slavery flooded Kansas territory in order to decide the elections. An earlier development of popular sovereignty arose from philosopher Francisco Suárez and became the basis for Latin American independence. Popular sovereignty also can be described as the voice of the people.

Two Concepts of Liberty

"Two Concepts of Liberty" was the inaugural lecture delivered by the liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin before the University of Oxford on 31 October 1958. It was subsequently published as a 57-page pamphlet by Oxford at the Clarendon Press. It also appears in the collection of Berlin's papers entitled Four Essays on Liberty (1969) and was more recently reissued in a collection entitled simply Liberty (2002).

The essay, with its analytical approach to the definition of political concepts, re-introduced the study of political philosophy to the methods of analytic philosophy. It is also one of Berlin's first expressions of his ethical ontology of value-pluralism. Berlin defined negative liberty (as the term "liberty" was used by Thomas Hobbes ) as the absence of coercion or interference with agents' possible private actions, by an exterior social-body. He also defined it as a comparatively recent political ideal, which re-emerged in the late 17th century, after its slow and inarticulate birth in the Ancient doctrines of Antiphon the Sophist, the Cyrenaic discipleship, and of Otanes after the death of pseudo-Smerdis. In an introduction to the essay, Berlin writes:

"As for Otanes, he wished neither to rule nor to be ruled—the exact opposite of Aristotle's notion of true civic liberty. ... [This ideal] remains isolated and, until Epicurus, undeveloped ... the notion had not explicitly emerged".

Concepts
By type
By right

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.