Isaiah Berlin

From Critiques Of Libertarianism
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Berlin was very mixed bag who, while supporting negative rights also held that there were many other competing values. He supported the New Deal, for example.


Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep. (3 links)
There are many types of freedoms that benefit the powerful while harming the weak. Libertarians are almost always in favor of those. Regulation is needed to eliminate those harms to the weak.
Isaiah Berlin: A Defence [More...]
"Despite the appearance of libertarianism, Berlin enthusiastically admired the New Deal, and less enthusiastically supported the British Welfare State. Given this, it is not surprising that he is distrusted or resented on the Right."
Liberty Is Liberty [More...]
Tom Palmer schools David Schmidtz and Jason Brennan for confusing several meanings of positive and negative liberty. Then he goes off the deep end, claiming "liberty as a uniquely social concept".
State of the Debate: The Libertarian Conceit [More...]
Books by Isaiah Berlin, David Boaz and Charles Murray are compared. "Reading the books side by side elucidates both the appeal and the basic dishonesty of libertarianism and highlights the importance of wiser responses to skepticism about politics."
Two Concepts of Liberty [More...]
Isaiah Berlin's famous overview of how two ideas (of the hundreds) of liberty relate to various historical philosophers' ideas. He uses a different definition of positive liberty than prior authors.


The bloodstained story of economic individualism and unrestrained capitalist competition does not, I should have thought, today need stressing. Nevertheless, in view of the astonishing opinions which some of my critics have imputed to me, I should […] have made even clearer […] the evils of unrestricted laissez-faire.
Isaiah Berlin, "Four Essays on Liberty"
Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep.
Isaiah Berlin, "Four Essays on Liberty" p.xlv.
Liberty and equality, spontaneity and security, happiness and knowledge, mercy and justice - all these are ultimate human values, sought for themselves alone; yet when they are incompatible, they cannot all be attained, choices must be made, sometimes tragic losses accepted in pursuit of some preferred ultimate end.
Isaiah Berlin, "The Power of Ideas" p. 27
In so far as I live in society, everything that I do inevitably affects, and is affected by, what others do. Even Mill's strenuous effort to mark the distinction between the spheres of private and social life breaks down under examination. Virtually all Mill's critics have pointed out that everything that I do may have results which will harm other human beings.
Isaiah Berlin, "Two Concepts of Liberty"
I do not wish to say that individual freedom is, even in the most liberal societies, the sole, or even the dominant, criterion of social action. We compel children to be educated, and we forbid public executions. These are certainly curbs to freedom. We justify them on the ground that ignorance, or a barbarian upbringing, or cruel pleasures and excitements are worse for us than the amount of restraint needed to repress them.
Isaiah Berlin, "Two Concepts of Liberty"
First things come first [...] individual freedom is not everyone's primary need.
Isaiah Berlin, "Two Concepts of Liberty"
Almost every moralist in human history has praised freedom. Like happiness and goodness, like nature and reality, it is a term whose meaning is so porous that there is little interpretation that it seems able to resist. I do not propose to discuss either the history or the more than two hundred senses of this protean word recorded by historians of ideas.
Isaiah Berlin, "Two Concepts of Liberty"