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Difference Between Positive and Negative Freedom

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Submitted By barneyoneill
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Distinguish between positive and negative freedom.

Both classical liberals and modern liberals priorities freedom, however have different views to what freedom really is. While modern liberals don't reject negative freedom all together there are still certain beliefs that they disagree with. The long-term goal of both classic liberals and modern liberals is to promote individual autonomy. During the course of this essay i will explore the different beliefs that both liberals believe in and define positive and negative freedom.

Negative freedom is the absence of external constraints on the individual. It is the belief that people should be able to act in the way they please (for example, free speech). This is a belief supported strongly by classical liberals however, there are similar ideas supported by modern liberals. Classical liberals believe this to be a good thing as the more negative freedom you have, the more ability you have to do what it is you desire. Charles taylor defined negative freedom as an ‘opportunity concept’ of freedom. This is the idea that negative freedom give you access to a whole range of opportunities which give the individual freedom of choice to whether one takes advantage of these opportunities or not. Negative freedom, however, is not a practical policy in society. While it may sound beneficial, it leave the question to whether you are truly free if someone elses freedom inflicts upon yours. As a result limited state intervention is accepted in order to prevent harm to others. As a result, negative freedom is upheld through regular checks on government power. An example of negative freedom is civil liberties in which every individual in entitled to in society. The concept of negative freedom can simple be summed up as ‘i am a slave to no man’.

Positive freedom is an idea supported strongly by modern liberals.…...

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