Difference between revisions of "Negative and Positive Freedom"

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"In re- cognizing that freedom is always both freedom from something and freedom to do or become something, one is provided with a means of making sense out of interminable and poorly defined controversies concerning, for example, when a person really is free, why freedom is important, and on what its importance depends."
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"Taking the format 'x is (is not) free from y to do (not do, become, not become) z', x ranges over agents, y ranges over such 'preventing conditions' as constraints, restrictions, interferences, and barriers, and z ranges over actions or conditions of character or circumstance." p. 314
  
"The differences would be rooted in differing views on the ranges of the term variables-that is, on the ('true') identities of the agents whose freedom is in question, on what counts as an obstacle to or interference with the freedom of such agents, or on the range of what such agents might or might not be free to do or become... It is therefore crucial, when dealing with accounts of when persons are free, to insist on getting quite clear on what each writer considers to be the ranges of these term variables."
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"Consequently, anyone who argues that freedom from is the 'only' freedom, or that freedom to is the 'truest' freedom, or that one is 'more important than' the other, cannot be taken as having said anything both straightforward and sensible about two distinct kinds of freedom. He can, at most, be said to be attending to, or emphasizing the importance of, only one part of what is always present in any case of freedom." p. 318
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"In recognizing that freedom is always both freedom from something and freedom to do or become something, one is provided with a means of making sense out of interminable and poorly defined controversies concerning, for example, when a person really is free, why freedom is important, and on what its importance depends." p. 319
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"The differences would be rooted in differing views on the ranges of the term variables-that is, on the ('true') identities of the agents whose freedom is in question, on what counts as an obstacle to or interference with the freedom of such agents, or on the range of what such agents might or might not be free to do or become... It is therefore crucial, when dealing with accounts of when persons are free, to insist on getting quite clear on what each writer considers to be the ranges of these term variables." pp. 319-320
 
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what they want to do, or what they 'really' want to do, or what they would want to do if ... The idea would be to promote seeing the removal of ignorance and passion, or at least the control of their effects, as the removal or control of something preventing a person from doing as he wishes, really wishes, or would wish, and so forth, and thus, plausibly, an increase of that person's freedom.
 
what they want to do, or what they 'really' want to do, or what they would want to do if ... The idea would be to promote seeing the removal of ignorance and passion, or at least the control of their effects, as the removal or control of something preventing a person from doing as he wishes, really wishes, or would wish, and so forth, and thus, plausibly, an increase of that person's freedom.
 
Arguments concerning the 'true' identity of the person in question and what can restrict such a person's freedom are of course important here and should be pushed further than the above discussion suggests. For the present, however, one need observe only that they are met again when one presses for specification of the full range of what, on interpretation (2), Smith is made free to do. Apparently, he is made free to do as he wishes, really wishes, or would wish if . . . But, quite obviously, there is also something that he is prima facie not free to do; otherwise, there would be no point in declaring that he was being made free by means ofrestraint. One may discover how this difficulty is met by looking again to the arguments by which the claimer seeks to establish that something which at first appears to be a restraint is not actually a restraint at all. Two main lines may be found here: (a) that the activities being 'restrained' are so unimportant or minor (relative, perhaps, to what is gained) that they are not worth counting, or (b) that the activities are such that no one could ever want (or really want, and so forth) to engage in them. If the activities in question are so unimportant as to be negligible, the restraints that prevent one from engaging in them may be also 'not worthy ofconsideration'; if, on the other hand, the activities are ones that no one would conceivably freely choose to engage in, then it might indeed be thought 'idle' to consider
 
Arguments concerning the 'true' identity of the person in question and what can restrict such a person's freedom are of course important here and should be pushed further than the above discussion suggests. For the present, however, one need observe only that they are met again when one presses for specification of the full range of what, on interpretation (2), Smith is made free to do. Apparently, he is made free to do as he wishes, really wishes, or would wish if . . . But, quite obviously, there is also something that he is prima facie not free to do; otherwise, there would be no point in declaring that he was being made free by means ofrestraint. One may discover how this difficulty is met by looking again to the arguments by which the claimer seeks to establish that something which at first appears to be a restraint is not actually a restraint at all. Two main lines may be found here: (a) that the activities being 'restrained' are so unimportant or minor (relative, perhaps, to what is gained) that they are not worth counting, or (b) that the activities are such that no one could ever want (or really want, and so forth) to engage in them. If the activities in question are so unimportant as to be negligible, the restraints that prevent one from engaging in them may be also 'not worthy ofconsideration'; if, on the other hand, the activities are ones that no one would conceivably freely choose to engage in, then it might indeed be thought 'idle' to consider
our inability to do them as a restriction upon our freedom. Admittedly, the persons actually making the principal claim under consideration may have been confused, may not have seen all these alternatives ofinterpretation, and so forth. The intention here is not to say what such persons did mean when uttering the claims, but only more or less plausibly what they might have meant. The interpretations provide the main lines for the latter. They also provide a clear picture of what needs to be done in order to assess the worth ofthe claims in
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our inability to do them as a restriction upon our freedom. Admittedly, the persons actually making the principal claim under consideration may have been confused, may not have seen all these alternatives ofinterpretation, and so forth. The intention here is not to say what such persons did mean when uttering the claims, but only more or less plausibly what they might have meant. The interpretations provide the main lines for the latter. They also provide a clear picture of what needs to be done in order to assess the worth ofthe claims in each case; for, ofcourse, no pretence is being made here that such arguments are always or even very often ultimately convincing.
 
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    Negative and Positive Freedom 121
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each case; for, ofcourse, no pretence is being made here that such arguments are always or even very often ultimately convincing.
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Interpretation (2) clearly provides the most difficult and interesting problems. One may analyse and discuss these problems by considering them to be raised by attempts to answer the following four questions:
 
Interpretation (2) clearly provides the most difficult and interesting problems. One may analyse and discuss these problems by considering them to be raised by attempts to answer the following four questions:
 
(a) What is to count as an interference with the freedom of persons?
 
(a) What is to count as an interference with the freedom of persons?
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In the end, then, discussions of the freedom of agents can be fully intelligible and rationally assessed only after the specifica- tion of each term of this triadic relation has been made or at least understood. The principal claim made here has been that insistence upon this single 'concept' offreedom puts us in a position to see the interesting and important ranges of issues separating the philosophers who write about freedom in such different ways, and the ideologies that treat freedom so differently. These issues are obscured, if not hidden, when we
 
In the end, then, discussions of the freedom of agents can be fully intelligible and rationally assessed only after the specifica- tion of each term of this triadic relation has been made or at least understood. The principal claim made here has been that insistence upon this single 'concept' offreedom puts us in a position to see the interesting and important ranges of issues separating the philosophers who write about freedom in such different ways, and the ideologies that treat freedom so differently. These issues are obscured, if not hidden, when we
 
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122 Gerald C. MacCallwn, J,:
    122 Gerald C. MacCallwn, J,:
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suppose that the important thing is that the fascists, com- munists, and socialist~ on the one side, for example, have a different concept of freedom from that of the 'libertarians' on the other. These issues are also hidden, ofcourse, by the facile assumption that the adherents on one side or the other are never sincere.
suppose that the important thing is that the fascists, com- munists, and socialist~ on the one side, for example, have a different concept of freedom from that of the 'libertarians' on the other. These issues are also hidden, ofcourse, by the facile assumption that the adherents on one side or the other are never smcere.
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Gerald MacCallum's groundbreaking explication of Freedom as a Triadic Relation. "Freedom is thus always of something (an agent or agents), from something, to do, not do, become, or not become something; it is a triadic relationship." p. 314. Originally in The Philosophical Review, reprinted in The Liberty Reader pp. 100-129. "This paper challenges the view that we may usefully distinguish between two kinds or concepts of political and social freedom - negative and positive.. the distinction between them has never been made sufficiently clear, is based in part upon a serious confusion..."

"Taking the format 'x is (is not) free from y to do (not do, become, not become) z', x ranges over agents, y ranges over such 'preventing conditions' as constraints, restrictions, interferences, and barriers, and z ranges over actions or conditions of character or circumstance." p. 314

"Consequently, anyone who argues that freedom from is the 'only' freedom, or that freedom to is the 'truest' freedom, or that one is 'more important than' the other, cannot be taken as having said anything both straightforward and sensible about two distinct kinds of freedom. He can, at most, be said to be attending to, or emphasizing the importance of, only one part of what is always present in any case of freedom." p. 318

"In recognizing that freedom is always both freedom from something and freedom to do or become something, one is provided with a means of making sense out of interminable and poorly defined controversies concerning, for example, when a person really is free, why freedom is important, and on what its importance depends." p. 319

"The differences would be rooted in differing views on the ranges of the term variables-that is, on the ('true') identities of the agents whose freedom is in question, on what counts as an obstacle to or interference with the freedom of such agents, or on the range of what such agents might or might not be free to do or become... It is therefore crucial, when dealing with accounts of when persons are free, to insist on getting quite clear on what each writer considers to be the ranges of these term variables." pp. 319-320

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