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Plausible Understanding of the Positive Concept of Freedom - Essay Example

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The essay "Plausible Understanding of the Positive Concept of Freedom" focuses on gathering a plausible understanding of the positive concept of freedom as it has been understood by various theorists and philosophers, which has been a matter of research and philosophical speculation ever since Aristotle’s time…
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Plausible Understanding of the Positive Concept of Freedom
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Download file to see previous pages While this is a commonly accepted understanding of the concept of freedom, there are many who believe that absolute negative freedom will result in dictatorship or authoritarian leadership whereas positive freedom will culminate in totalitarianism. However, the positive concept of freedom better caters to the modern states as every citizen is bound to subject his individual freedom to the constitution and other social, religious and moral codes that dominate the society.
One needs to have a thorough understanding of the distinction between the concept of positive and negative liberty so as to develop a plausible understanding of the positive concept of freedom. While negative liberty is understood as “the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints”, positive liberty refers to “the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes” (Carter 2007). To put it in more precise terms, the negative theorists of freedom are preoccupied with the degree to which individuals or groups suffer interference from external bodies, whereas the theorists of positive freedom emphasise on the potential of the individual to act constructively and to participate in their government. As such, exercise of one’s positive freedom necessitates individual responsibility and morality, and one needs to take into account the collective general will of the society while exercising his/her right to freedom.
Isaiah Berlin was the first to offer a comprehensive thought on the concepts of negative and positive freedoms in his Two Concepts of Liberty. Berlin defined negative liberty “as freedom from, that is, the absence of constraints on the agent imposed by other people”; on the other hand, he defined positive liberty “as freedom to, that is, the ability (not just the opportunity) to pursue and achieve willed goals; and also as autonomy or self-rule, as opposed to dependence on others” (Cherniss & Hardy 2008). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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