e-book Positive Liberty: An Essay in Normative Political Philosophy

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Overview of Political Theory - Oxford Handbooks

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Current library Yusuf: When Our Messengers had to Lut, he had possible on their faith, prevailing other of emphasizing them. This arcane "positive vs. There may be things you do not like about the current social order that have nothing to do with negative liberty.

You might be bothered by income inequality, for example, and feel tempted to trade away some respect for property rights so the government can engage in wealth redistribution. But your concerns are no longer libertarian at that point. It's also dangerous to place vague notions such as equality above liberty. If we never violated negative liberty, we'd have a very real kind of equality: the equal freedom to pursue our own goals, with no one, no matter how powerful, actively interfering with your life, even for their version of your benefit.

But enforcing equality beyond that necessarily violates negative liberty. One may value things above freedom when shaping the political and social order. But it seems un-cricket to wear libertarianism like a disguise, taking on the intellectual and emotional benefits that accrue to liberty, while actually valuing other things above the only truly coherent form of liberty.

There are many possible reasons for valuing liberty above other social considerations. We may see something inherent about human nature that demands we treat others as ends in themselves, not just as means to our vision of a "better" world; we may notice that the concept of "positive liberty" frequently dissolves into sophistical excuses to treat other people's lives as means to our preferred ends; we may think any overarching social vision of what "better" looks like isn't discoverable except by letting people demonstrate via free choice what they want; we may conclude on empirical grounds that empowering one group of people to make things "better" by manipulating everyone's lives and property inevitably leads to bloodshed, injustice, and misery; and to the extent that apparent goods arise from liberty-violating institutions, we may believe that a regime of negative liberty would be capable of providing those same goods without the bloodshed, injustice, and misery.

Lec 4: Freedom as autonomy;Positive and negative liberty

The concept of negative liberty has an emotional pull on nearly everyone in an abstract way, yet libertarians are acutely aware that most people are also willing to violate it to achieve something they want more. But abandoning negative liberty means allowing certain individuals to use force or the threat of same to make people who have not harmed anyone turn their will, their energy, their property, or their life toward someone else's goals. That this ought not be done is both a powerful intuition and, as libertarians try to argue, the key to achieving a world that is optimally wealthy and full of choices.

This seems, at least to some of us, like as noble and appropriate a vision as a political ethics could have. The most influential works of philosophy do more to change how we think than what we think, and in turn they end up doing both. By this definition, Isaiah Berlin's essay " Two Concepts of Liberty " is very influential indeed. In drawing a clean distinction between "negative" and "positive" liberty, Berlin laid out a seductive vocabulary for thinking about our rights and freedoms that, once learned, is devilishly hard to transcend.

But transcend it we must. The popular view among contemporary libertarians that freedom means merely "freedom from," as in "freedom from the coercive tentacles of government interference," is radically incomplete. It takes for granted the immense institutional infrastructure that makes our apparent "negative rights" anything but, and it orients the libertarian reform agenda in a way that is ripe for abuse.

To see why requires tracing the origins of the negative conception of liberty back to its roots. As the economist F.

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Hayek notes in The Constitution of Liberty , "Not Locke, nor Hume, nor Smith, nor Burke, could ever have argued, as Bentham did, that 'every law is an evil for every law is an infraction of liberty. Instead, Hayek argued, the English classical liberals located liberty in "the evolution of 'well-constructed institutions' where the 'rules and principles of contending interests and compromised advantages' would be reconciled" in a way that channelled "individual efforts to socially beneficial aims.

Property rights and legal systems, in particular, represent what David Hume called the "artifice" of justice—institutional forms that, far from being absolute, primordial facts of nature, were adopted over time on the basis that they are empirically conducive to human flourishing. This is not to underrate the unique threat governments pose to individual liberty.

On the contrary, the positive underpinning of seemingly negative rights is what provides the meta-rule necessary for appreciating the why and how of limited government in the first place. From a commitment to the general, non-discriminating application of justice, to support for efficient institutions of property and market exchange and the recognition of essential civil rights, including political participation, that give voice to the voiceless: None of these essential characteristics of a limited, representative government can be found in the simplistic maxim of non-interference.

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Libertarianism

In contrast, consider what happens when the rationalistic view that "every law is an evil" is taken in earnest. Let us look at these two different notions of freedom in more depth. Early Sartre views freedom as synonymous with human consciousness. In simple terms, consciousness escapes itself both because it is intentional consciousness always targets an object other than itself and temporal consciousness is necessarily future oriented Being and Nothingness , pp.

The notion of ontological freedom is controversial and has often been rejected because it implies that humans are free in all situations. In his early work Sartre embraced this implication unflinchingly. Famously, Sartre claimed the French public was as free as ever during the Nazi occupation.

In Being and Nothingness , he passionately argued that even prisoners are free because they have the power of consciousness p. A prisoner, though coerced, can choose how to react to his imprisonment. The prisoner is free because he controls his reaction to imprisonment: he may resist or acquiesce. Since there are no objective barriers to the will, the prison bars restrain me only if I form the will to escape. In a similar example, Sartre notes that a mountain is only a barrier if the individual wants to get on the other side but cannot Being and Nothingness, p.

It is an open question whether and how to reconcile the early, ontological conception of freedom with the late, material conception of freedom. However, it is undeniable that in his political phase Sartre adopted a new, material view of freedom. Several points stand out in particular. In later works he never again used the notion of consciousness to characterize human existence, preferring instead the Marxist notion of praxis. He did not explicitly discuss such alterations, though clearly abandoning the view that humans are free in all situations.

Since humans can never lose their ontological freedom, the loss of freedom in question must be of a different sort: oppression must compromise material freedom. Take the case of the prisoner. The prisoner is ontologically free because she controls whether to attempt escape. On this view, freedom is synonymous with choice. But there is no qualitative distinction between types of choices.

If freedom is the existence of choice, then even a bad choice is freedom promoting. The early view is subject to the charge that if there are no qualitative distinctions between types of choices, then the phenomena of oppression and coercion cannot be recognized. In Anti-Semite and Jew and Notebooks Sartre implicitly addresses the above criticism, arguing that oppression consists not in the absence of choice, but in being forced to choose between bad, inhumane options Notebooks , pp. Jews in anti-Semitic societies, for example, are forced to choose between self-effacement or caricatured self-identities Anti-Semite and Jew , pp.

In Critique Sartre uses the example of a labor contract to illustrate the claim that choice is not synonymous with freedom Critique, pp. An impoverished person who accepts a degrading, low wage job for the sake of meeting her basic needs has a choice—she may starve or accept a degrading job—but her choice is inhumane.

In the political period as a whole Sartre developed his material view of freedom by contrasting the free person with the slave. Though his notion of slavery is derived from Hegel, Sartre, unlike Hegel, diagnosed literal cases like American chattel slavery. A slave, he argues, is un-free because he is dominated by a master Notebooks pp.

Material freedom requires, therefore, non-domination, or freedom from coercion. Though both perpetrator and victim are in bad faith, only the slave is coerced physically Notebooks , p. The material view of freedom assumes a thin set of universal human goods, including positive human goods food, water, shelter and education and negative goods freedom from all of the following: slavery, poverty, discrimination, domination and persecution. While Critique elaborates an economic understanding of human goods the essential needs are those of the physical organism , elsewhere Sartre defends a wider spectrum of human needs including cultural goods and access to shared values Notebooks pp.

The foregoing definition casts Sartre as an ally of political liberalism, and suggests that material freedom is a version of liberal autonomy. Liberals who defend the primacy of autonomy typically claim that positive notions of freedom assume substantive, controversial conceptions of the good life. However, Sartre criticizes classical liberalism, especially in Critique , arguing against asocial, atomistic notions of selfhood p. Further, like civic republican philosophers such as Aristotle and Rousseau , Sartre contends that controlling the social forces to which one is subject is a valuable type of human freedom.

Is the right to be left alone sufficient?

However, his preference for mass movements and bottom-up social organization suggest that he would favor radical participatory democracy. Consistent with his general methodology, Sartre denied that oppression reduces to either individual attitudes or impersonal social structures. Sartre, like Hegel, showed that domination is a self-defeating practical attitude. An anti-Semite bases his self-image on the fact that he is not-a-Jew, but in so doing, he becomes depended upon the Jewish other from whom he claims total independence. Ultimately, the racist receives no satisfaction from domination because he solicits recognition from someone he denigrates.

Bad faith is self-deception See Being and Nothingness , pp.

John S. Dryzek, Bonnie Honig, and Anne Phillips

Race, Sartre claims, is socially constructed. The biological view of race, which says there are innate racial character traits, causes a host of distortions and misinterpretations of human action. Most fundamentally, the appeal to essences causes us to abdicate responsibility and blame our freely chosen actions on fictitious inner drives and motives. Controversially, Sartre claimed that both perpetrators and victims of oppression exhibit bad faith.

In Anti-Semite and Jew Sartre defines authenticity as follows:. If it is agreed that man may be defined as a being having freedom within the limits of a situation, then it is easy to see that the exercise of this freedom may be considered as authentic or inauthentic according to the choices made in the situation.

Authenticity, it is almost needless to say, consists in having a true and lucid consciousness of the situation, in assuming the responsibilities and risks that it involves, in accepting it in pride or humiliation, sometimes in horror and hate. Critique of Dialectical Reason offers a macro-social phenomenology of oppression. Written during the Algerian war, Critique frequently cites French colonialism in Africa as an example of serial, alienating action. Colonialism creates a climate of hostility where each person is alien to himself and alien to other members of his collective Critique , pp.

Serialized collectives tend not to organize themselves into resistance groups and tend to lack awareness of their potential group power. For example, desperately impoverished Algerians compete against each other for low wage jobs and unintentionally harm the entire collective by driving down wages for everyone. Sartre shows, then, that oppression is both an interpersonal dynamic and a social-institutional phenomenon.

Like Hegel, Sartre sees domination as ultimately self-defeating. On the psychological level, the oppressor lives in bad faith, misunderstanding his own freedom and the freedom of his victim. In later works, especially Critique , the psychological portrait of oppression is mapped onto a macro-social analysis of group struggle. Institutionalized racism is seen as a special case of bureaucratic dehumanization.

Victims of racist oppression become alienated, both from themselves and from one another, making organized resistance unlikely. Like Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, Sartre argued that intellectuals, as well as ordinary citizens, are responsible for taking a stand on the major political conflicts of their era What is Literature?

Somewhat idealistically, he hoped that literature might be a vehicle through which oppressed minorities could gain group consciousness, and through which members of the elite would be provoked into action. Sartre was famous for writing scathing essays condemning French policies. While he intervened in most major French political issues in his lifetime, his critique of French colonialism in Algeria is the most striking instance of Sartrean engagement. He wrote dozens of essays attacking French colonialism in Algeria, and introduced to the French public works of lesser known political writers.

Sartre wrote prefaces for F.


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His preface to an anthology of black, anti-colonialist poets, A. The inaugural issue of Les Temps modernes October, first articulated the vision of social responsibility which would become the hallmark of political existentialism. A socially responsible writer must address the major events of the era, take a stance against injustice and work to alleviate oppression.

What is Literature? Writing is necessarily a dialogical, intersubjective process, where author and reader mutually recognize each other What is Literature? Mutual respect, Sartre claims, is inherent in the relationship between artist and audience. It is impossible to be politically neutral, he insists What is Literature?