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Importance of negative freedom to liberalism - Essay Example

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Negative freedom is the form of freedom that is based on the concept of liberty from interference by others. Sir Isaiah Berlin is the greatest proponent of negative liberty. He defines negative freedom in the book “Two Concepts of Liberty” as, “absence of interference from a person’s sphere of action”…
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Importance of negative freedom to liberalism
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Download file to see previous pages In this sort of freedom, the people can handle their own issues like business affairs, growth of kids, and formulation of their own communities. Later, laissez-faire and modernist liberals took place. Both are of the view that negative freedom is important. In negative freedom, the government does not interfere with the choices of the people and it does not intervene with the behaviors of the public. So, the concept of negative freedom has great association with the liberalism in eras of eighteen and nineteenth century. Negative liberty in modern liberalist approach got great significance because people felt greater liberty in management of their affairs which was not supported in classical liberalism (Siegel, 2011, p.11). Negative Freedom: The Core of Liberalism: Negative freedom has great significance for liberalism; in fact it is the key concept that matters in liberal approach. Negative freedom as described by Berlin is the core value of liberalism because as negative liberty requires belief in non-interference so does the liberalism. Liberalism is of the views that the people should have an area of non interference or liberty from intervening factors. This sphere is called negative freedom by Isaiah Berlin that helps in understanding the true meaning of a liberal state (Brennan, 1991, p.4). Negative liberty thrives on the assumptions that when people make personal choices, they affirm to the humanitarian requirements. The following statement totally confirms to the classic liberal ideas where liberals demand that the person should be free in all personal choices because this is the essence of life and this is what makes life worth living. There ought to exist a certain minimum area of personal freedom which can on no account be violated, for, if it is...
John Stuart Mill, an important liberal scholar also deems negative freedom as a key factor for liberalism. He believes that individual’s freedom is likely to extract maximum individual thoughts in a good way when they do not face any restriction from society. Liberalists like Mill and Berlin do not see that positive freedom can be a core value of liberalism because positive liberty believes that the humans are imperfect and there should be a power to curb the ultimate freedom of the people to make the society perfect for living. So, Berlin believes that the true freedom is negative freedom while in positive freedom, “societal decisions about the common good are given to misinterpretation and are fraught with the potential for tyranny of the majority, or even dictatorship by a few”. With these concepts of liberalism, people may not have legal power to decide about the various aspects of the state but they are assumed totally free in the society unless anyone, either a person or state interferes with the particular behaviors of individuals.
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