Is There Only One Concept of Freedom?

2495 words

Lord Acton wrote: ‘Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end’   Heywood argues that in Western liberal societies a high political value has been put on liberty.   Many philosophers have tried to posit an answer to the question; is there only one concept of freedom? (I will use freedom and liberty interchangeably) This essay critically explores the question with references to Berlin and his theory presented in “Two Concepts of Liberty”. Argued one of the most important works in political philosophy, according to Carter . His famous distinction between negative and positive liberty as two separate concepts marked a new era in political philosophy. Therefore, it is important to question why the distinction was significant and still is today   ttracted attention in 1969 when it was written?   Was it because it was innovative and original? Or was it simply because the paper was an appealing philosophical reflection of the ideological differences in the Cold War, taking place at the time?
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines liberty as; ‘The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.’   NOAD posit a fairly broad definition of liberty, as opposed to the philosophers I critically will explore. The limits will be put on political liberty and not economic liberty or any other kind. First I will reveal what liberty is according to the major different political views and how these will appear visible in Berlin’s theory. Second, Berlin’s negative and positive concepts of liberty will be presented and examine. He argues that negative freedom is freedom from external interference, whereas positive freedom is freedom to achieve one’s desired goal. Third, MacCallum however, argues that two definitions of freedom is misleading, as a substitute he suggests a single ‘value-free’ concept; ‘x is free from y to do...