Liberalism: A Form Of Positive Freedom

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Free speech is often seen as key tenant to liberal ideology. Liberal ideology is the ‘commitment to the individual and the desire to construct a society in which people can satisfy their interests and achieve fulfilment’ (Heywood 2012:24). Liberalism promotes individualism and is resistant to forms of control, especially government control, that remove an individual’s freedom. Classical liberalism encourages only minimal role of the state with no interference in the private lives of individuals, where modern liberalism focuses more on state assistance in order to help individuals reach their potential – such as welfare and regulation of markets (Heywood 2012:25). Freedom is a paramount right to liberalism as they allow individuals self-determination …show more content…
Negative freedom is the removal of interference that allows people to act in a way they believe is best for them. It is referred to as ‘negative’ freedom as it is the ‘absence of external restrictions’ on the individual (Heywood 2012:31). Removing interference of the state over the private lives of individuals is a form of negative freedom however it falls short as it does little to provide individuals with equality. This form of liberalism finds it difficult to answer critics concerns of structural inequalities that exist in society. Another form of freedom, that of positive freedom, goes some way in resolving this. Positive freedom includes measures taken to assist individuals realise their potential and achieve self-realisation (Heywood 2012:31). Positive freedom recognises structural inequalities and attempts to assist individuals to rise above this. So while negative freedom looks at placing restraints on government power with freedom of speech, freedom of religion and so on, positive freedom looks at enhancing individual capabilities with rights to education, rights to health care and social protection. The difference between negative and positive forms of freedom can also been seen as a clash between liberalism and communitarianism. Liberalism seeks to establish universal rights in order to protect the individual and allow them autonomy in choosing what is best for their lives (Passavant p13). In contrast, …show more content…
‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others’ (Mills 1998:14). An individual cannot be prohibited or coerced into doing something because the state feels that it is best for them. ‘The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it’ (Mills 1998:17). Individuals are required to be left alone, free from state restrictions, in order for self-determination. Mill was concerned with the ‘tryanny of the majority’ (1998:8), a fear that government would take it upon themselves to make moral dicisions in the lives of its

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