Negative and Positive Liberalism

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Politics essay Essay question – A) Outline the concepts of negative and positive freedom. B) What is their relevance for the concept of democracy? The word freedom implies that an individual is free to act as she/ he desires. Freedom implies that there are thus no boundaries to limit any human actions. Freedom is a topic which is strongly debated on and is entwined with the ideas of liberalism and other ideologies (Anderson, 2012, What is Liberty, para.1).Freedom can be divided into two sub- sections known as negative freedom and positive freedom (Heywood, 2007; 324). Negative freedom is the exemption from any external influences which include the exemption from any interference (Pettit, 1989:1). Negative freedom thus means the absence of external forces on an individual which results in the individual being able to pursue decisions as he/ she desires. Positive freedom is the possibility where a person can act in such a way to achieve an identifiable goal; this would include personal development, self- realization or even self- mastery (Heywood, 2007; 324). This essay will criticise negative and positive freedom, outlining the concepts of them and their relevance to the concept of democracy. The argument as to whether negative freedom is functional can be motivated by looking at the ideological movement’s, namely freedom, sub- section’s strengths and weaknesses. Limitations on negative freedom are imposed by a person and not by the interference/ decisions made by the government. Coercive law manages to reduce the degree of people’s freedom (Pettit, 1989:1). These restrictions are seen in this case as external and limitations are brought forward by the actions and decisions made by other people. Negative freedom is what people expect when they think of the word freedom and this represents all the possibilities there are available
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