Essay: Two Concepts of Liberty in Isaiah Berlin

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Essay: Two Concepts of Liberty in Isaiah Berlin

Sample Essay

This lecture was delivered by Isaiah Berlin, a liberal philosopher, in October 31, 1958 at the University of Oxford. The main aim of this work was to differentiate between both negative and positive freedom. It was the first essay written on political philosophy being introduced by analytic philosophy. It was supported by other philosophers who came up with similar conclusions as to the distinctions of liberty. This includes Erich From in his work dated the year 1941.

The term negative liberty is used to in Berlin to imply to the type of freedom, which does not apply interference or coercion. With negative liberty, one has the freedom of choosing what he wants to do and what he does not want to do. A person does only that pleases him. On the contrary, positive liberty has interventions from ruling but a person has the authority and responsibility of choosing who governs his society. Both of these liberties were seen to be of value in Berlin since they all contributed to humanity. However, it has been proved that positive liberty is vulnerable to abuse from the citizens since after the 18th century, it has been seen to be paternalistically redrawn and conflated from the third person and from the negative liberty concepts and thus camouflaging the value conflicts underlying it.

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