What 's Wrong With Negative Liberty? Essay

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In this paper, I will argue that Charles Taylor is correct for challenging the crude version of negative liberty and proving that it is indefensible in a liberal society, and by doing so making negative liberty a form of positive liberty. In his famous work, “What’s wrong with negative liberty?”, Charles Taylor takes on Isiah Berlin’s argument against negative liberty. In this essay, we will see Berlin’s distinction of different kinds of liberties, then go through Taylor’s paper on criticizing Berlin’s idea of negative liberty. We will also look at Taylor’s criticism of negative liberty’s advantages to liberalism’s goal of advancing individual prosperity.
Before starting to discuss Taylor’s argument, it is necessary to look at Berlin’s distinction of liberty in “Two Concepts of Liberty”. Berlin argues that there are two types of liberty, positive and negative. The freedom from external interference is what he calls negative liberty, and the freedom to act upon one’s will is positive liberty. Negative liberty could also be seen as the absence of external obstacles for one to live their lives. For instance, your ability to practice a certain religion without intervention from the government would be your negative liberty. Positive liberty, on the other hand, is your freedom to live your life according to your own values. The example of religion in this sense would be you practicing any religion that you’d like. To make this distinction clear, in the language of negative…

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