Final Exam Study Notes - Isaiah Berlin: Two Concepts of...

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Isaiah Berlin: Two Concepts of Liberty Negative Liberty: - this liberty is not being interfered with by others (institutions, people, government) - it is liberty from - to be coerced is the interference of other humans within the area in which I could otherwise act - why do we need negative liberty? our projects or purposes are different and do not harmonize we use negative liberty to monitor the conditions so we get minimal needs to complete these projects - therefore, the state ought to protect our negative liberty within limits Liberty and equality, fairness, justice, happiness and culture: - we need to look at equality when regarding the value of freedom : the peasant needs clothes or medicine before personal liberty , as you need the resources before you can understand or make use of an increase in freedom - the state can sometimes justiFably sacriFce the negative liberty of some people, in order to promote the happiness / equality of other people ex: tax rich people to give to the poor - there is an absolute loss in liberty because the rich are losing freedom and the poor are not gaining freedom - however, sometimes we need to restrict negative liberty in order to give them the background conditions in order to achieve equality and make use of the negative liberty that we already have ( MacKinnon ) - values are incommensurable : we cannot weigh them on the same sort of scale and one of them cancels the other out: happiness and culture are completely different than equality and liberty - we must say that it is important to take away liberty because equality matters so much , but there is still an absolute loss of liberty Positive Liberty: - concerned with the source of control and whatever tells us how to act - you have PL when you can formulate your own conception of the good , and that you can act on it - self actualization , autonomy, rationality, being one’s own master - positive liberty is impeded and frustrated by a lack of adequate resources , spiritual slavery or nature - personal desires : there are real desires (higher nature), and the desires that you wish you did not have (lower nature) - you have true positive liberty when you are actually Flling your real desires - why does PL matter? often, when we think that the government should respect their negative liberty , we are ultimately facilitating their positive liberty PL is what we actually care about
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- Berlin says that positive liberty is a dangerous notion as it has been used in highly misleading ways The Dangers of Positive Liberty: - the government uses positive liberty to coerce people into doing something that they wouldn’t otherwise do (1) if A were fully informed, he would decide to join religion R (2) therefore it is in A’s real interest to join religion R (3) So, his real self does desire to join R (4) So, if we force him to join religion R, we are not really forcing him - you are not going to desire it unless you are fully informed - this leads us to
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course PHL 271H1 taught by Professor Professormoreau during the Spring '11 term at University of Toronto- Toronto.

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Final Exam Study Notes - Isaiah Berlin: Two Concepts of...

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