Berlin and Pettit: Can their accounts of liberalism be sustained when considering anti-terrorism laws?

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Laws have the capacity to infringe civil liberties however they also provide a forum for its creation and development. For Berlin, his conception of liberty is based upon the idea of positive and negative freedoms. Liberty according to Berlin is viewed as freedom from interference; therefore laws which respect our freedoms are preferable as they allow for different paths of self-actualization. Pettit however considers liberty in terms of freedom from domination and considers the role laws and democracy can play in assuring individual freedoms. In addition to considering the respective approaches of Berlin and Pettit, their theories will also be considered in relation to terrorism. By considering their respective arguments in the context …show more content…
The importance of liberal values becomes increasingly important with the emergence of transnational terrorism. This is because it introduces new complex questions as to how to balance individual liberties with collective security. Laws which seek to protect individuals from terrorism have different implications upon different individuals . Therefore, an approach needs to be able to balance protecting society from the threat of terrorism whilst ensuring individual rights with laws and the state seeking to address this precarious balance.

Conceptualizing Positive and Negative Liberty

Berlin conceptualizes the distinction between laws that interfere with one’s freedom and laws which respect these freedoms in terms of positive and negative liberty. In a broad sense, his argument rests upon the view that interference is the antonym of liberty. Berlin considers positive liberty simplistically as having the internal resources to act whereas negative liberty is freedom from human interference. Positive and negative liberties are not merely different conceptions of different forms of liberty; rather they are incompatible visions of a political ideal as they have vastly different conceptions of the law, the state and the individual. Negative liberty exists where the individual is free to engage in their pursuits without human interference . Negative freedom is pluralistic as it

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