Positive and Negative Liberty a Discussion
Posted On April 4, 2017
Chapter One, Introduction:
Just prior to Berlin??™s death Adam Swift (2001: ix) notes a letter Tony Blair wrote seeking clarification on the link between the two concepts of liberty. In this letter, Blair argues that positive conceptions of liberty do not have to lead toward tyranny (Blair on http://berlin.wolf.ox.ac.uk ). Throughout his life, Berlin has been a significant figure in contemporary political philosophy. He is known for his numerous political writings amongst other things. However, he is most recognisable for his inaugural lecture at Oxford titled ???Two Concepts of Liberty??? (Berlin69). The lecture was given in the context of the rise of Stalinism with the Iron Curtain and with the dismantling of the British and other empires, Berlin who saw himself as a ???cold warrior??? (Ignatieff1998:231) gave the lecture as a warning to the soon to be ex-colonies (Ignatieff1998:227). In the essay, Berlin addresses the question of the ???permissible limits of coercion??? (Berlin1969:121). He labels the ???two concepts??™ ???positive??™ and ???negative??™ liberty. Berlin suggests that value pluralism is an important aspect of liberty and that it is best promoted in circumstances of negative liberty. This is contrasted with positive liberty. Positive liberty argues Berlin is a dangerous theory because it can promote value monism. In doing this, positive liberty has been accused of leading to tyranny with to great an ease (Berlin1969:134). However, Berlin runs many forms of liberty together. In this paper, I will clarify these conceptions of ???positive??™ and ???negative liberty showing that when isolated they may be made compatible without necessarily leading to tyranny.
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Berlin uses the terms liberty and freedom interchangeably and as such, this paper shall do the same. Moreover, Berlin conceptualises a form of freedom as ???freedom as reason??? this is to be termed rationalised liberty or freedom. Furthermore, regular reference to tyranny is made in the essay as such it is to be understood as governance where in a single ruler has power over citizens.
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Berlin was arguably a neutralist liberal in as much as he promotes negative conceptions of liberty. He saw himself to be ???pursuing the purely neutral task of showing what a philosophical analysis of our concepts requires us to say about the essence of liberty??™ (Skinner2001b:116). Neutralist liberalism argues, ???The state??™s reasons for action should not be a judgement about some ways of life being better than others, but should be reasons that are neutral between the [different ways]??? (Swift2001:163). This is not to say Berlin was a neutralist as such only that he promotes a similar form of governance. That is, one, which appeals to the negative values to which he subscribed including individual autonomy and freedom. Berlin believed in the absolute value of negative liberty and in words similar to those of Mill, he states, ???We must preserve a minimum area of personal freedom if we are not to ???degrade or deny our nature??™. ???We cannot remain absolutely free, and must give up some of our liberty to preserve the rest. But total self surrender is self defeating??? (Berlin1969:126). Such an understanding of Berlin associates him with the negative conceptualisation of liberalism that Bentham and Mill promote. His refusal to accept most elements of positive liberty suggests that he was not the left of centre individual he claimed to be.
MacCallum ( in Swift2001:53) argues that it is wrong to differentiate between different types of freedom in the way that Berlin does. Instead, he suggests that all freedom is the same and that arguments on the issue are in fact best formulated as:
???X is (is not) free from y to do (not do, become, not become) z???
Thus, all disagreements on freedom are disagreements about what is to be counted as an ???x??™ what counts as a ???y??™ and what counts as a ???z??™ (Swift2001:54). MacCallum argues that Berlin??™s distinction is a confusion of terminology. This essay holds the same. As such, the discussion will focus on the conceptions of liberty that Berlin gives. In doing so this paper will clarify the ideas Berlin puts forward in his lecture.
Positive and Negative liberty:
In Berlin??™s lecture, negative liberty is understood as relating to the area of a person??™s life that should be decided upon by the individual. This is formulated in a variety of statements. The most concise being that negative freedom is that freedom which ???no man or body of men interferes with??? (Berlin1969:122). This understanding of negative freedom is further clarified. Interference is only practiced by people. That is to say, people ???lack political liberty or freedom [only] if [they] are prevented from attaining a goal by human beings??? (Berlin1969:122). This understanding of liberty is equated to Hobbes (Swift2001:63) and it is argued that it is too blunt a formulation to have any real meaning in the ???liberal??? sense (Taylor  in Miller1991:141-162).
Unfortunately, the definition of positive liberty is not so clearly defined. Berlin gives a range of formulations. However, these conceptions of positive liberty may be described through three main statements contrasted with their counterparts for clarity:
1. Freedom as the power or capacity to act in certain ways, as contrasted with the mere absence of interference.
2. Freedom as rational self-direction, the condition in which a person??™s life is governed by rational desires as opposed to the desires he just as a matter of fact has.
3. Freedom as collective self-determination, the condition where each person plays his part in controlling his social environment through democratic institutions (Miller1991:10).
The accusation that the conception of positive liberty as given in ???Two Concepts??? runs many forms of liberty together is arguably explained with reference to T.H. Green??™s work ( in Miller2006:21-32) titled ???Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract.??? In this essay, Green explains positive liberty in a similar manner. Green describes freedom as ???a positive power or capacity of doing something worth doing or enjoying, and that, too, something that we do or enjoy in common with others??™ (Green  in Miller 2006:21). This definition brings together similar concepts of liberty as those defined as positive by Berlin. Thus, Berlin could be excused for merely following precedent. Additionally it is possible that Berlin was responding to the formulation of positive liberty that Green proposed and as such used a similar formulation in the lecture.
???Two Concepts??? contains two main arguments that link liberty to pluralism. The first states that pluralism gives a reason to value choice since people have conflicting values and as such must make choices. Because liberalism best promotes choice, it resonates most with the pluralistic perspective (Berlin1969:168). The second argument states in a more general manner that for pluralism to be successful there is a requirement for an ???anti utopian approach to politics??? (Crowder2002:78). This paper will argue that these two arguments support each other because liberalism is the least of the utopian political theories and that in supporting people??™s freedom of choice one also reduces the opportunity for monist utopian political theories to grow in popularity.
Berlin recognised that within a given group values might differ. Some values are incommensurable and yet they are none the less important in that they allow for a wide range of lifestyle choices, and thus, greater freedom. As such, Berlin argued that freedom, as rational self-mastery was dangerous because it is, he argues, value monistic. For Berlin, value pluralism did not equate with relativism. Value pluralism holds some values are universal but that these values may be expressed in different ways (Crowder2002:45).
In the chapter dedicated to the discussion of value pluralism I will argue that Berlin was correct to associate pluralism with liberalism but that pluralism may be more ???effectively??™ practised under some conceptions of positive liberty in that people may more capably act on the choices they make under such conceptualisations. Thus, it will be shown that positive liberty does not necessarily lead to either tyranny or value monism.
In this dissertation, I shall attempt to illustrate how Berlin was mistaken in his view of positive liberty as a dangerous theory. Skinner contends that MacCallum??™s analysis was wrong because Two Concepts provides a discussion of ???two rival and incommensurable concepts of liberty??™ (Skinner  in Miller2006:244) He proposes that ???the positive view must amount to a separate concept??™ (skinner2001b:114). However, this is not the case. If the many conceptualisations of liberty, which Berlin discusses, are understood correctly, they may be made compatible. In the process of showing this, I shall be examining the main themes and conceptions of liberty present in ???Two Concepts???. These themes and conceptions when clarified in the second chapter are to be addressed under the ensuing chapter headings: Core Themes and Conceptions, Negative and Positive Liberty, and Value Pluralism. In choosing the themes, I will be able to address much of the surrounding commentary produced in relation to Berlin??™s lecture. I will use the works of C. Taylor, and F. A. Hayek amongst a wide range of other writers to illustrate this.
Within ???Two Concepts???, there is confusion; Berlin argues that pluralism as a significant element of liberty is most appropriately promoted within a negatively liberal state. This paper contends that liberty is in fact more aptly promoted in a positively liberal state. It will be shown that Berlin failed in his promotion of negative liberty as a means to increase the freedom of the individual. This is because he neglects the link between resources and freedom. Berlin states that ???rationalised freedom??? is a danger. However, this paper will illustrate that this is not necessarily so. It will demonstrate that rationalised liberty does not lead to value monism nor does it result in tyranny. Further, it shall be shown that Berlin in ???Two Concepts??? was attempting to make appealing the conception of negative liberty as being preferable to the only alternative of tyranny. This is clearly not the case. This paper aims to show that there is a better antidote to tyranny than negative liberty. This is found in the promotion of freedom through the exercise of a mixture of the elements of positive and negative conceptions of liberty.
Chapter Two: Core Themes and Conceptions Found in ???Two Concepts???
In this chapter, I will outline and illustrate the foundations of the principle themes and conceptions found in the Two Concepts essay. The themes and conceptions analysed in this chapter will be Autonomy as self-rule, Freedom as Obedience, Mill as the foundation of negative liberty, the nature of man and value pluralism. The more general themes of tyranny and the threats posed thereby shall be illustrated throughout. The theories of Rousseau, Kant, and T.H. Green will be discussed in relation to Berlin??™s use and criticism thereof. In addition, there will be a discussion of Mill in relation to the basis of Berlin??™s conceptualisation of negative liberty.
Autonomy as self-rule:
Berlin associates positive liberty with theories of autonomy and self-rule of the agent. ???The positive sense of the word ???liberty??™ derives from the wish on the part of the individual to be his own master??? (Berlin1969:131). Berlin??™s conception of freedom as self-rule is most associable with Rousseau??™s idea of the ???general will??? as put forth in Social Contract also to be referred to as ???SC??™. He argues that by giving up natural freedom as found in the state of nature ???which has no other bounds than the individual??™s forces??™ (Rousseau  1998:bk1chp8) man gains civil and moral freedom ???which alone makes man truly the master of himself??™ (Rousseau  1998:bk1chp8). Rousseau argued that self-rule is only possible through obedience to the general will and that the individual could be ???forced to be free??? (Rousseau  1998:bk1chp7) in order that their ???real??™ self be freed. Berlin argues that this is no realistic conception of freedom and that to split man in two and conceive of ???man divided against himself??? (Berlin1969:134) is, history tells us likely to lead to tyranny. In the division of the self there is discerned a dominant self and a ???bundle of desires to be brought to heel??? (Berlin1969:134). Berlin suggests that the dominant self could be conceived of as a ???super-personal entity??? (Berlin1969:134) such as the state, a class, or the march of history and that such a conception can and historically has led to tyrannical regimes.
This argument is best understood through a discussion of the argument that Rousseau allows for tyranny as Berlin suggests.
Rousseau wrote the Social Contract with the aim of providing a means whereby freedom be maintained within society. The work was written in the context of the prevalence of theories regarding the state of nature and contractarian explanations of society. According to Mason in Wolker (1995:122), Rousseau had ???an acute sense of the need for individual freedom and the central issue of politics for him was that of reconciling this with the need for some overall authority.??? This suggests that Rousseau was not promoting tyranny and that Berlin was mistaken in his accusation. However, it is necessary first to provide a brief description of the general will so that it may be known whether Rousseau allows for the type of tyranny Berlin suggests.
The General will is the aggregates of each individual??™ will as relevant to society. It is unlike ???the will of all??™ in this respect. Tyranny of the majority is not possible under the general will because it necessarily considers all views; ???no one has any interest in making it burdensome to the rest??™ (Rousseau  1998:bk1chp7). Rousseau stresses the importance of consent and as Cranston (1995:238) suggests ???men can be at the same time ruled and free if they rule themselves. For the obligation to obey will be combined with the desire to obey; everyone obeying the law will be acting in obedience to his own will??™. Conceiving of Rousseau in such a way explains how positive and negative conceptions of freedom have split. Berlin??™s negative liberty is based on an idea of the individual as best judge of the self. His conception of positive liberty is more akin to one whereby the individual plays a dual role, of individual and of citizen. Berlin was concerned that Rousseau??™s theory of the state could be used as a means to oppress the citizens thereof. This problem is one Rousseau recognises. Rousseau attempted to provide a theory that gave the maximum freedom to the individual. However, the theory as it stands inevitably requires a state of some form in order that the general will be discerned and implemented. Furthermore, the theory allowed certain immoral situations to arise. The general will could discern that all individuals above the age where they can produce goods be killed and yet they would have to accept because ???obeying the laws is tantamount to obeying your own will??™ (Mason in Wolker1995:125). This situation from a Machiavellian perspective could be argued as good for the state. Yet it is not appropriate in a contemporary liberal society.
Rousseau defines liberty as follows ???Liberty consists less in doing what you want than in not being subject to the will of another??™(Mason in Wolker1995:123). This appears to be an example of what Berlin refers to as the ???doctrine of sour grapes??™ (Berlin1969:139) in that the individual conceivably is sometimes forced to do that which his ???earthly body and foolish mind reject??™ (Berlin1969:134). Thus, Rousseau appears to suggest that the individual retreat to the ???inner citadel??™ of which Berlin speaks in order that they find ???freedom??™. Berlin has thus used Rousseau??™s works to illustrate how a tyrant might come to power by dictating how the ???good??? is to be understood. In doing so, Berlin illustrates the paradox between the ???latent rational will??™ and the desires of the individual as so stated. He calls the paradox a ???monstrous impersonation, which consists in equating what X would choose if he were something he is not, or at least not yet, with what X actually seeks and chooses??™ (Berlin1969:133). In giving this explanation, Berlin suggests that the theories of Rousseau et al are bad per se because they allow for someone other than ???X??™ to make choices over ???X??™??™s life. He also makes use of Kant??™s work to demonstrate how the use of a seemingly objective theory could enable the state to enforce tyranny by resort to the objectivity of reason. It should be noted that Berlin was likely projecting the implications of Kantian moral philosophy and projecting it onto the political sphere. This is because Kant??™s political philosophy was particularly obscure and remains unclear; matters of controversy remain amongst those who have studied its links to his moral theory (Wood2005:171). This paper will now discuss how Kant??™s works are used by Berlin, and the problems they face in respect of an analysis that is more contemporary. It will argue that Kant in proposing reason as opposed to ???freedom from the state of nature??™ as a means for finding the most appropriate course of action does not in the same movement suggest tyranny. Berlin as we shall observe once again, as a warning to his readers and listeners, blurs two theories together in order to imply that tyranny can be the outcome.
The transformation of X from ???what X says are its wants??™ to ???X??™s wants understood, as they ought to be??™ takes on a more tyrannical propensity under Kant and his followers. This is exemplified under the theme:
Freedom as Obedience
Berlin argues that positive liberty leads to readily to tyranny as freedom as obedience. He suggests that it is based in the idea that ???I say that I am rational […] I feel free to the extent that I believe this to be true and enslaved to the extent that I am made to realise that it is not??™ (Berlin1969:131). This rationality is in Kantian language contrasted with the notion of the rational self as contrasted with the hertonomous self.
Berlin uses Kant??™s philosophy to illustrate how it is that some tyrants have used reason to justify the ???antithesis of political freedom??™ (Berlin1969:140). He argues that they propose to lift the individual??™s freedom in accordance with some distorted concept of the general will ???above the empirical world of causality??™ (Berlin1969:136). Berlin goes on to illustrate the slight of hand stating that Kant??™s Philosophy is most appropriately associated with ??????liberal individualism at least as deeply as the ???negative??™ concept of freedom??™??™ (Berlin1969:139).
However, it is shown that Kant was promoting a stoic doctrine whereby the individual is holed up in the ??????inner fortress of ???his true self??™??™ (Berlin1969:139). Berlin argues that this will not suffice because of the propensity for such a conception of freedom to lead to tyranny. Berlin attempts an explanation of the reasons behind this problem. He suggests that Kant in successfully arguing for the dominance of reason whilst being an advocate of Rousseauian general will. Kant criticises the concept of democracy arguing that it is too similar to the will of all. “Democracy is necessarily despotism, as it establishes an executive power contrary to the general will; all being able to decide against one whose opinion may differ, the will of all is therefore not that of all: which is contradictory and opposite to liberty??? (Von Hofe1957:401). Through the advocacy of reason, Kant??™s work allowed for the success of the views of Herder, Hegel, Fichte, and Marx. These philosophers provided theories, which were monistic in their ends. The argument being that ???to want necessary laws to be other than they are is to be prey to an irrational desire- a desire that what must be X should also be not X. To go further, and believe these laws to be other than what they necessarily are, is to be insane??™ (Berlin1969:144). If a system of governance is able to designate those who disagree as insane it is clear that despotism and tyranny can too easily become prevalent.
This paper shall discuss the link between tyranny and a rationalised form of liberty under the chapter covering positive conceptions of liberty. It will be shown that the use of one??™s reason does not necessarily lead to value monism. Berlin contests this view and points out how ???A rational (or free) state would be a state governed by such laws as all rational men would freely accept??™ (Berlin 1969:145). Thus, the state could very easily decide that all those who did not accept the laws of the said state were insane. Furthermore, it is posited that in using reason to resolve problems thinkers of a rationalistic nature argued that ???there must exist one and only one solution to any problem??™ (Berlin1969:145). It is this, which lead Berlin to suggest that value monism was the result and that coercion was inevitable. Because of this Berlin rejects this as a realistic form of liberal government because it assumes that there is only one good, which people may pursue. Berlin??™s arguments on value pluralism show that there are many forms of good and the availability of a wide range of failed monistic systems suggests that pluralism allows for the safest from of government. That is one, which allows people to pursue the good as they conceive of it.
In making this point, Berlin is implicitly recognising the fact that reason does not necessarily lead to value monism. That is to say, if reason did result necessarily in value monism then surely all those who have provided rationalistic forms of governance would agree. In calling such a system of governance, tyrannical Berlin is merely pointing out that these political systems are themselves irrational because although they are many they are at odds with one another. Yet ???the rational solution of one problem cannot collide with the equally true solution of another??™ (Berlin1969:145). It is this, which Berlin is making clear as a warning to the ex-colonial countries with whom he sympathised and supported (Miller2006:12) at the time of the lecture??™s delivery.
The theories of both Kant and Rousseau have been shown to be problematic. However, they did not promote liberty as traditional liberals such as Mill et al have and so it is conceivable as to how their theories have been used by tyrants to justify a value monistic conception of freedom. T.H. Green attempted to reconcile the concept of self-rule as positive liberty within a non-tyrannical regime.
Green wrote in the context of positive reform by the British government, many negative liberals at the time criticised these reforms as inappropriate intervention from the state, whose role they believed, should be minimal. His aim was to give philosophical credit to the notion of positive intervention whilst maintaining congruity with liberalism understood as along the lines of Mill. Green argued that through certain positive actions by the state the individual??™s liberty could be increased.
He argued that utilitarian liberalism negates man??™s spiritual nature. To make pleasure the motive behind our actions is to reduce man??™s nature to that of an animal. For Green this is to view our nature at its most base and to ignore the contribution of the rational part of our nature (Carter2003:24). This is readily comparable to the state of nature, which political philosophers, such as Hobbes, have discussed and, which Rousseau has shown as inappropriate through the example of the noble savage. He linked this spiritual nature with reason stating that ???God is immanent in the universe, in the sense of being its constitutive principle, immanent in men, in the sense of being the principle of reason and morality within them??™ (Richter1964:102). Thus, man must be rational in order to accord with the divine consciousness. In being in accord with the said consciousness, one is also being moral. This conception of morality as rationality allows Green to advocate positive intervention by the state. This intervention was intended to allow individuals the capacity to act upon the good. Green defines the ???good??™ as the means by which the individual is able to improve a given situation. ???The capacity for being determined by a conception of the good, therefore, is what Green believed made us ethical beings??™ (Carter2003:27).
In defining the good in this way, it is possible to advocate positive intervention in the form of education and the like. This assumes that education is a good yet, at the same time, it is clear that education may improve the individual??™s capacity for liberty.
Berlin criticises the descendants of Kant and Rousseau because they assume, he states, that there is only one rationalised way of life. Green provides a method whereby a dualistic conception of the self does not necessarily lead to a single monistic system of values. Thus, Green is deliberately vague as to the exact nature of the good because he argues that it differs according to the individual and the circumstance as Greenleaf (1983:128) points out; the divine consciousness as immanent in the world changes and is revealed gradually over time. Green??™s conception of rationality is based in morality and positive liberty thus conceived is compatible with liberty and does not for Green lead to tyranny. Therefore, for Green, the individual may only be moral by means of a Kantian categorical imperative type test and only pursue goods that are common to all people. Furthermore, Green arguably maintains continuity with individualism in liberalism; he explains that an individual??™s good is the same as that of society. He differs from the advocates of the minimal state in forwarding the idea that ???the state must maintain conditions favourable to moral life and even actively promote the development of character by removing all possible hindrances??™(Richter1964:235). However, this is a vulnerable position and as Berlin accuses that although ???Berlin was a genuine liberal: […] many a tyrant could use [the formula promoting the ???higher??™ over the ???lower??™ self] to justify his worst acts of oppression??? (Berlin1969:133). Green did argue against the enforcement of morals; governments engaging in such behaviour he believed ???suffocated individuals by regulation and prevented them from acting morally??™ (Carter2003:39). Green believed that moral duties could not be enforced because they require certain intentions. In this it is shown that ??? the liberal presumption against excessive state intervention was entrenched within his philosophy at a fundamental level??™ (Bellamy1990:141). Thus, for Green, ???the real function of government [is] … to maintain conditions of life in which morality shall be possible??™ (Green 1999:14) However, it is clear that a dictator might easily manipulate what these conditions are with the result being tyranny. It is with this weakness in mind that Berlin warns against positive conceptions of liberty. However, contra-Berlin, Green was not strictly liberal; he did not argue for the individual??™s right to pursue the good as they see fit, rather he argued that the good was to be found in being moral. Green believes in a minimal role for the state, and maintains a ???presumption in favour of voluntary action because only it, and not acts prescribed by law, can genuinely express morality??™ (Richter1964:284). This minimal role is difficult to define and because the good has to be defined in order that conditions are such that it is pursuable, it does not rule out what might be deemed a tyrannical state. This is the position Berlin picks up from and criticises. This paper will in the ensuing chapters show that positive conceptions of liberty and state intervention in their name does not necessarily lead to tyranny and can in fact help promote liberty as the capacity to seek the good as the individual understands it.
Mill as the foundation for negative liberty:
In his famous essay ???On Liberty??™, Mill attempts to provide a description of the area of man??™s activity that is entirely private. Berlin supports this assertion in that it helps to promote both negative liberty and, therefore, value pluralism. He argues along similar lines to Mill. ???Unless men are left to live as they wish ???in the path which merely concerns themselves??™, civilization cannot advance; the truth will not, for lack of a free market in ideas, come to light; there will be no scope for spontaneity […] Whatever is rich and diversified will be crushed by the weight of custom???(Mill in Berlin1969:127). It is with the free market in ideas in mind that Berlin supports value pluralism as a means to this. Furthermore, Berlin states, ???the defence of liberty consists in the ???negative??™ goal of warding off interference??? (Berlin1969:127) so that the many ways of finding a ???good life??™ might be found. The argument that Mill promotes negative liberty is prima facie acceptable; after all, the harm principle appears to restrict paternalistic government ???the only purpose for which power be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others??? (Mill  1985:68) however, this is not necessarily the case. There were arguably circumstances under which Mill advocated certain positively liberal policies. If the definition of harm were to be broadened then coercion could be acceptable. For example, criticism of the state. This is harmful to some individuals, and as such under many tyrannical regimes, this is not permitted. It is in this manner that Mill could be used to justify acts of tyranny by those wishing to manipulate the definitions of harm. Mill??™s failing was in not giving a satisfactory definition of what constitutes harm. It appears then that Berlin uses Mill only in as much as the arguments he provides are applicable to freedom as opposed to the development of the self. That is, Berlin does not seem to apply the arguments to the negatively conceived state. This being one wherein ???The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way??? (Mill in Berlin1969:127). This seems to weaken Berlin??™s argument for negative liberty because liberty is linked closely with morality.
The nature of man:
Berlin does not argue that man is not consistent in a higher and lower self rather; he argues that it is not appropriate for government to act under such a premise because it to readily leads dangerously toward value monism. He argues that with ???enough manipulation with the definition of man, freedom can be made to mean whatever the manipulator wishes.??™ (Berlin1969:134). This, it is argued, is incompatible with liberalism as the capacity to pursue the good life as each conceives of it. This is because Berlin recognises that values can oppose one another. As such, Berlin believes that it is only under a negatively liberal state that this value pluralism may be protected. In this manner, Berlin may be said to conceive of man as gaining meaning to life through negative liberty in a Millian sense. That is one in which men are conceived of having equal value amongst others as choice making beings. This is illustrated in his promotion of value pluralism, which recognises that the good life is complex (Crowder2002:79-97) and differs widely between people.
Berlin traces value pluralism to the times of the ancients. He suggests that pluralism is based in the need to measure imperfection within society. Elements of pluralism were found in the Relativists who said that ???different circumstances and temperaments demanded different policies.??™ He suggests that some sceptical thinkers such as Carneades ???thought that some ultimate values might be incompatible with one another, so that no solution could incorporate them all??™??™ (Berlin  in Gray1996:39). Gray (1996:47) goes on to note that Machiavelli gave a ???largely tacit statement of the thesis of the theory of value pluralism.??™ Berlin bases his formulation of value pluralism on Machiavelli??™s tacit statement. He argues that ???rationalist monism is the rock upon which, western beliefs are founded that Machiavelli seems in effect to have split open??™
???if Machiavelli was right and it is impossible to be morally good and do one??™s duty as this was conceived by common European and especially Christian ethics, and at the same time build Sparta […] or Rome of the Republic??™(Berlin in Gray1996:48). Machiavelli has shown that there are conflicting goods and that these conflicts are valuable. This seems to be the basis for Berlin??™s pluralism, yet it differs from the pluralism as Berlin promotes it as found in liberal theory. Machiavelli??™s pluralism was not supportive of the liberal values of toleration or diversity, which he would have been sceptical of (Gray1996:48). Rather, the pluralism Berlin advocates argues that because there are many incommensurable values which are equally valid one cannot have ???knowledge of the right, but only a groundless decision as to how to act??™ (Gray1996:49). Because of this Berlin argues that liberalism is the most appropriate form of governance because it allows the individual to make their own decision as to how to act without interference from external bodies.
Chapter Three; Positive and Negative Conceptions of Liberty.
In this chapter, I will discuss the conceptions of liberty as Berlin formulates them. I shall argue that the majority of conceptions of positive liberty do not lead to tyranny and can, if implemented appropriately, promote a more plausible understanding of liberty. The conceptions will be discussed under the following headings: ???formal freedom and effective freedom??™, ???autonomised freedom contrasted with freedom as desire, and ???freedom as political participation opposed to freedom as the end of politics??™. The various conceptions of liberty as Berlin presents them will be discussed here and they will be clarified. However, significantly more time will be spent discussing the concept of autonomy because Berlin because the heart of his objection to positive liberty was that, this element of positive liberty could lead to tyranny (Miller1991:12). Additionally, extensive cover of the formal effective distinction is necessary because the nature of freedom and coercion through law and economy are strongly involved in these conceptualisations. This discussion will allow for the accusation that positive liberty leads too easily toward tyranny to be put to one side in making way for an alternative understanding of positive liberty which advocates freedom as much as Berlin appeared to. This alternative understanding of positive liberty sheds the accusation of tyranny and unlike Berlin??™s negative liberty; it promotes freedom for all and not just for the elite.
Formal freedom and effective freedom:
Formal freedom is that freedom which results from being un-interfered with by other people Berlin contrasts this with freedom to act as one may wish unrestricted by means (Berlin1969:124). The distinction may be better understood with an example. In the fictitious state ???Korona??™, everyone is free to seek healthcare on demand; that is to say, there is no law preventing any part of that society from going to a medical professional. Under these circumstances, every citizen of Korona may be said to have formal freedom. However, for those unable to pay for the medical services this freedom is nonsense. In Korona, only those with the means to seek medical advice are the possessors of effective freedom. Berlin is associated with the promotion of formal freedom that is, with non-interference by the state including minimum interference in the market by way of taxes. This sort of freedom is advocated by philosophers of the political right such as Nozick. Thus, Berlin arguably would technically be against a law that requires intervention in the market through tax. Furthermore, Berlin argues that we should not entangle freedom with ???the conditions of its exercise??™ (Swift2001:57). Thus, in endorsing a conception of effective freedom, Berlin argues, one also endorses values such as equality and justice. He felt that it was dangerous to confuse such concepts under the auspices of all good things coinciding. This is understandable, the ???thin end of the wedge??™ one might say. However, it is a matter of fact that some ???good??™ things do coincide. For example Berlin accepts that some level of justice is necessary for freedom (Berlin1969:122) discusses the necessity of recourse to the law courts. This does not mean that all good things must coincide as they do under the formulation of reason Gray (1996:42) describes.
Moreover, as Cohen points out, the promotion of formal freedom ignores the un-freedom found when effective freedom is absent (Cohen in Miller2006:167). Clearly, some level of effective freedom is needed for people to be able to pursue the good as they conceive of it. Dworkin (1996:266-280) suggests that some people may pursue their conception of the good in seeking equality as a right. It is a fallacy to argue that one is still free even when one lacks the conditions to act on that freedom. Clearly, there is a compromise to be struck whereby people are made sufficient by way of resources to act on their conception of the good. This requires redistributing the resources of the well endowed to those not so fortunate. This is not to suggest that equality and liberty are in some respects compatible rather; that those who are less fortunate be given the capacity to live as they wish.
Berlin fails to give a consistent conception of the formal freedom he supports. Miller (2006) gives three ways, in which Berlin formulates restrictions on formal freedom. These are ???the deliberate interference of other human beings within the area in which I would otherwise act??™, also as human beings ???making arrangements??™ that prevent me from achieving my aims, and lastly as ???the part that I believe to be played by other human being directly or indirectly, with or without the intention of doing so, in frustrating my wishes??™ (Berlin in Miller2006:14-15). These formulations disagree over whether freedom can be restricted by the deliberate acts of other humans. They disagree further, over whether there must be a direct connection between the act and the restriction for it to count as such (Miller2006:14). Berlin does not state whether he regards law as the only reasonable restriction on the individual??™s formal freedom or if such conceivable obstacles as finance and the like should be taken into account. Thus, it is not entirely clear as to his actual position on what should count as a reasonable level of restriction on formal freedom. Berlin seems to ridicule the state conceived of as a night watchman (Berlin1969:127). This implies that Berlin might agree with some level of intervention to promote some form of financial freedom as a means to allow people to act on their ???wishes??™ and to reduce the threat of oppression from ???the bloodstained story of economic individualism and unrestrained capitalist competition??™ (Berlin1969:xlv). Nevertheless, this seems implausible; he clearly states that freedom should not be confused with such concepts as justice or equality (Berlin1969:124-125). Berlin was clearly confused. Cohen (in Miller2006:163-182) has kindly shown how the two are linked arguing that the distribution of freedom in a society depends on the distribution of property. Further, on the same page (125), Berlin seeks to promote the minimal amount of interference as authority. Authority is ambiguous; it could be empirical enforcement of the law for example a law prohibiting murder, or it could be some form of interference in the individual??™s meaningful belief structure such as an enforced state religion. There is a further distinction between formal freedom and effective freedom, which Berlin highlights in the examples above, but fails to expand on. This is between the state??™s enforcing taxes as a means to pay for public services that increase individual effective freedom and prevent arrangements, which might prevent the individual??™s ???achievement of aims??™, and the states promotion of circumstances that lead to a singular conception of morality and politics. The argument that freedom should not be associated with equality or justice has led some to associate him with the political right. However, if the statement discussing ???human beings ???making arrangements??™ that prevent me from achieving my aims??™ is understood outside of Berlin??™s particular beliefs. The promotion of effective freedom through the provision of welfare services which enable an individual to act upon their wishes and aims whilst protecting the idea of a private sphere does not have to lead to tyranny. However, it does show that Berlin??™s formulations of negative liberty apply to his arguments regarding positive liberty in that a person??™s aims or wishes could require effective freedoms in order that they are not frustrated. Descendants of Berlin such as Hayek have attempted to provide more robust conceptualisations of negative freedom. This is freedom as independent of material resources. This attempts to resolve the problem of promoting effective freedom by associating freedom with material resources. Hayek??™s proposal describes freedom as ???independence of the arbitrary will of another??™ (Hayek  in Miller2006:81) and coercion as being made the instrument of another??™s will (Miller2006:14). Understanding coercion in such a way, according to Hayek, means that laws as regulators laid down in advance of the activities they are intended to regulate are not coercive because they are merely the conditions that a person takes into account when deciding how to act (Hayek  in Miller2006:98-99). Hayek argues that a system of governance based on these laws imposes no limits on ???negative??™ liberty in the proper sense of the term. He argues that liberty should be understood as compatible with being ???miserable??™. This he posits means that the individual should be ???free to starve??™ (Hayek  in Miller2006:87). This is compatible with effective conceptions of liberty so long as the individual??™s individuality is respected. With the proviso of respect for the individual, the individual may be free to starve; however, they should have a choice in the matter. Promoting effective freedom does not have to equate to promoting a particular moral structure, furthermore, the individual may still possess the private sphere, with effective freedoms, about which Hayek (Hayek  in Miller2006:96) and Berlin are so concerned.
Hayek??™s analysis of liberty is problematic; he associates freedom with a lack of coercion. This appears unjustified; ???someone who physically restrains me […] surely impedes my freedom just as much as another who makes me perform some action by issuing a threat??™ (Miller2006:15) laws may be understood as threats; if they are not obeyed they are enforced, the subject of a law is in this sense threatened. However, Hayek has suggested that rules of law do not coerce those who are subject to them. Miller points out that Hayek has made a conceptual error. Hayek??™s argument that a person is not coerced by law appears to be linked to Kant??™s idea that a man is not restricted by those laws he applies to himself Berlin views Kant??™s theory as being a part of positive liberal theory. As such, this line of thought could be used to promote the tyranny against which Berlin warns (Berlin1969:138-140). Moreover, the ???claim [that a man is not coerced by those laws to which he is subject] overlooks the possibility that a law might be general and abstract and yet highly restrictive of the behaviour of those subject to it??™ for example the American prohibition laws (Miller2006:15). Hayek fails to de-link ???freedom??™ from ???material resources??™ when he accepts that under some circumstances the individual can be coerced through economic power (Hayek  in Miller2006:92). It appears that Millers observation is correct in that ???the distribution of resources is always going to be relevant to the distribution of negative liberty in a society??™ (Miller2006:15). This shows that the distinction between formal freedom and effective freedom that Berlin attempts to highlight is hazy. The arguments Cohen puts forward in his paper Capitalism Freedom and the Proletariat (in Miller2006:163-182) illustrates how an argument for socialism may be based in conceptions of negative freedom (Miller2006:17). In this paper, Cohen disproves Hayek??™s argument that freedom is separable from material means. However, in arguing from a negatively liberal basis Cohen shows that the terms negative and positive liberty are insufficient and that more appropriate labels must be used when discussing the topic of freedom. It is understandable as to why writers brand Berlins Hobbesian formal freedom as ???at best a confusion and at worst a kind of mockery of freedom??™ (Skinner  in Miller2006:248).
Autonomised freedom contrasted with freedom as desire:
The argument here is based in the idea of an individual acting under the influence of their desires and yet not having autonomy over their life. Berlin argues that it is through the concept of autonomy that totalitarian regimes are able to justify their existence. However, there have been many governments, which have promoted a degree of autonomy and yet have not led to tyranny. Rather, these governments have been described as ???nanny states??™ thus it is not necessarily so that the promotion of autonomy leads to tyranny. Berlin was concerned that this has in the past lent towards tyrannical regimes (Berlin1969:134).
As described in chapter two, the concept of autonomy is based in a higher or rational self and lower or irrational desire driven self. Autonomy is purportedly achieved when the higher self dominates the lower self (Berlin1969:132). The idea of a divided self seems to be Berlin??™s principle concern; he mentions it as problematic more regularly than other conceptualisations of freedom. Berlin argues that the greatest danger is faced when the conditions for achieving autonomy are taken out of the hands of the individual and placed in those of the state. This is the most valid of Berlin??™s concerns; however, in lumping together other, more acceptable conceptions of liberty, in the way his predecessors such as TH Green (in Miller2006:21-32) have done, Berlin, rather than clarifying the concept of positive liberty merely caricatures it and warns against it. It seems that promoting some conceptions of positive liberty such as for example: effective freedom or democratic political participation is clearly distinguishable from the promotion of liberty as autonomy decided by a body superior to the individual. Autonomy may be conceived of in a variety of ways. Berlin neglects the various possible formulations and uses Kant and his descendant??™s formulation of autonomy as rationality as an example of a dangerous form of the concept. Kant??™s argument that one should use reason as a means to live autonomously does not lead to there being, as Berlin (1969:145) implies, only one true way of living. The promotion of reason as a means of decision making can be a valuable good. In many circumstances, it is best to use one??™s reason, that is, to make decisions based on good information. The use of one??™s reason as a means to live well is something Berlin argues that it is dangerous for the state to promote because it can too readily lead to the threat of coercion. Berlin was against the idea of the state having the option of forcing people to be free, and argued that state promotion of autonomy was dangerous because of the slippery slope toward tyranny it might open up (Berlin1969:134). Berlin was concerned that in promoting autonomy as reason there would be an associated promotion of value monism. He felt this was incompatible with his conception of liberty. The promotion of reason however, does not necessarily lead to value monism. Swift (2001:84) points out that each person can live a rational life unique to them ???So the state helps its members towards freedom not by getting them all to live the same way, but by doing what it can to help them live in ways which are rational for them??™. In this way, value pluralism may still be possible the individual is able to choose from a range of equally rational options as to how they wish to live. Additionally, Swift mentions that there are a limited number of things, which it is irrational for all people to seek and as such, it is acceptable that the state may promote the avoidance of such things as addictive drugs and the like. There are though, many varying forms of autonomy and many of these forms do not have to lead to a being superior to the individual having control. Some more romantic views of autonomy as put forth in the works of Berofsky (1995:22-24) discuss autonomy as the flourishing of the self. Such an understanding of autonomy does not appear to lead to tyranny in the least. Promoting autonomy in such a way can allow the individual a greater degree of effective freedom to live as they wish because they are better informed as to what it is they desire. Crocker (1980:125) argues that one may have conflicts not only between a higher and lower self but also between the desires designated as a part of the individual higher or lower self by philosophers of a dualistic bent, which Berlin(1969:132) describes. Crocker goes on to give an example wherein an individual has a conflict between two ???base??™ desires. The capacity for desire conflict is something most will recognise. Taylor expands on the idea of desire conflicts and argues that the resolution of such conflicts is important to the whole notion of our finding an identity and ???can only make sense against a background of desires and feelings which are not brute, but import attributing??™ (Taylor  in Miller 2006:156). These conflicts may be between a wide range of desires be they ???higher??™ or ???lower??™. Thus, showing, that the individual may be split into all manner of parts so; promoting the use of reason does not necessarily assume the higher lower distinction rather; it can allow the individual to better resolve such desire conflicts. Moreover, desire conflict may be viewed, alternatively, as being between first order desires. Another means of resolving these conflicts, Frankfurt ( in Swift2001:82) argues, is by looking to second order desires or ???meta-desires??™. In this way, the use of one??™s reason is not even necessary to the resolution of such conflicts. Thus, Berlin??™s concern that positive conceptions of liberty as autonomy lead toward tyranny seems to be somewhat of a truism; tyrannical states that divide the self, with the higher self??™s nature decided upon by the state are prone to tyranny because the individual is not at liberty to live as they say they want to. The use of reason to resolve desire conflicts does not have to lead toward tyranny nor is it the only manner in which such conflicts may be resolved. Berlin has ???fixed on the caricature??™ (Taylor  in Miller 2006:141) of autonomy as presented by Kant et al. This may have been appropriate in the midst of the cold war in attacking the communist threat. However, Berlin went too far in attacking all conceptions of positive liberty even as applied to Communism the idea that men are forced to be free is extreme (Taylor  in Miller 2006:142).
Those who advocate negative conceptions of freedom argue, as aforementioned, that a person is free to do, as they will, as long as there are no external obstacles. This contradicts the idea of internal impediments and the post-Romantic idea that ???each person??™s self realisation is original to them??™ (Taylor in Miller2006:142). Berlin in Two Concepts makes a similar mistake to Hobbes and Bentham in ignoring this. In the same way as with formal, freedom a man cannot plausibly be said to be free if he has not realised his potential due to some paralysing internal fear. ???With the freedom of self realisation, having the opportunity to be free requires that I already be exercising freedom??™ (Taylor  in Miller 2006:144). Understood in this way, advocates of positive freedom may be seen as enabling the individual to make their own choices, free from internal obstacles. This enabling does not have to be forced on the individual and in many current examples of it; such as the British NHS, it is voluntary.
Berlin as a ???cold warrior??™ (Ignatieff1998:231) may have chosen to engage with positive liberals from a simplified conception of negative liberty in order to avoid the ???metaphysical hogwash??™ of self-realisation theories (Taylor  in Miller 2006:145). This was because Berlin was concerned that an official body might be able to coerce the individual against his stated will in the name of allowing him the realisation of his ???true self??™ (Berlin1969:134). Taylor suggests that there are plausible circumstances wherein the individual is not the best judge of his action. In such circumstances he posits that ???some others who know us intimately […] are undoubtedly in a position to advise us, but no official body can possess a doctrine […] whereby they could know how to put us on the rails, because […] people differ in their self realisation??™ (Taylor  in Miller 2006:147). Moreover, even in these circumstances, the individual should freely make decisions which place them back on the metaphorical rails because in forcing someone to live in a given way one is renouncing respect for individuality. Furthermore, such policies are self-defeating; as Locke puts it: ???such is the nature of understanding, that it cannot be compelled to the belief of anything by any outward force??™ (Locke  in Boaz1998:54). It is in this way that, by limiting restrictions to non-significant beliefs, that liberty is still safe from tyranny under a positive form of government.
Berlin attempted to argue that man should be free to make decisions on those issues, which were of import to him. These are decisions regarding those issues by which ???the believer defines himself as a moral being??™ (Taylor  in Miller 2006:149-150) this is a significant aspect of Berlins negative liberty, ???The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way??? (Mill in Berlin1969:127). In this way, Berlin circumvents the problem in Hobbesian theory, which argues that any restriction on freedom is bad as such (Taylor  in Miller:150). However, in bringing Berlin, in failing to recognise the importance of internal obstacles to the individual??™s freedom shows that the criticisms of positive liberty are ill founded. This is because autonomy, rather than restricting freedom, may serve to liberate the individual. So long as it is maintained that the individual is not to be acted upon against their stated desire then liberty is safely maintained in the face of the threat of tyranny.
Freedom as political participation opposed to freedom as the end of politics:
Berlin distinguishes negative liberty as understood through Mill wherein freedom is to do with the ???private sphere??™ from positive liberty whereby freedom is found through political participation in the state and the law making processes. He felt that such participation could lead to the violation of the private sphere by public authority in the name of making the individual free (Berlin1969:124 and 134).
The link with autonomy as freedom is clear; advocates of autonomy such as Rousseau and Kant when understood concerning their support for the idea of the general will seemed to advocate a Greek style polis wherein a person may be forced to be free. When this is understood through Aristotle??™s understanding of man as a political animal one might conclude that man flourishes as a political animal by involvement in the lawmaking process. Berlin makes a similar leap and in this manner lumps together to different forms of freedom: that of freedom as autonomy, and that of freedom as political participation. As we have seen, freedom as autonomy does not have to be linked with involvement with the state and may be only decided upon by no higher agency than the individual may. Equally, participation in the lawmaking process does not necessarily involve autonomy in the sense Berlin intended.
The republicanism associated with Rousseau et al that Berlin discusses is not compatible with liberalism. The core of liberalism is very heavily based on the concept of a private sphere wherein the individual may do as they wish. Intrusions in the name of making an individual ???happier or because, in the opinions of others, it would be wise??™ (Mill in LaFollette2002:290) are contrary to the ideals of liberalism. Berlin criticises this brand of republicanism because of the value monism it can espouse. It was the promotion of value monism, which Berlin felt was most likely to result in tyranny over the individual. However, Berlin does, in as much as he promotes negative liberty; advocate some degree of political participation. This is because political participation Berlin argues has greater significance (Berlin1969:155-156) and can resiliently protect the negative freedom of all. Moreover, Skinner (in Miller1991:183-205) argues that citizens have a duty to participate in the politics of their country in order to protect their own freedom. This, he argues in his later essay (in Miller2006) is to maintain freedom from the servitude found in a tyranny. It therefore appears that political participation is compatible with a private sphere for the individual; Berlins fear that this could be linked with autonomy is unnecessary. However, the claim Berlin is making is that a certain area of negative liberty is necessary for human wellbeing and that this minimum should not be intruded upon in the name of freedom as autonomy. So long as the individual is recognised as the best judge of his reason then this is not a risk.
What conclusions may be drawn from Berlin??™s conceptions of positive and negative liberty
Berlin??™s description of liberty as being either positive or negative does not give a satisfactory understanding of the topic because Berlin runs together a range of conceptions. Furthermore, in doing this he fails to give a meaningful criticism of positive conceptions of liberty, which it has been shown does not necessarily lead to tyranny.
Moreover, Berlin in his desire to illustrate the threat of tyranny has oversimplified the concept of liberty as distinguished under the above headings, which as Taylor et al have shown, substantially weakened the type of negative freedom he tried to promote. This negative freedom is not consistent and is at times confusing as a result, it is difficult to take the warning Berlin gives against tyranny seriously. However, Berlin did succeed in pointing out the problems in the theory behind those regimes accused of tyrannical behaviour. It could be reasonably alleged that the conceptualisation of liberty as merely positive or negative is lacking because it is too blunt. However, in failing to satisfactorily distinguish, the particular elements of liberty he helped stimulate an era of political philosophical writing, which has allowed for the understanding of the distinctions in forms of liberty. C Taylor demonstrates that Berlin??™s explanation of freedom will not suffice; he successfully argues that internal divisions are an essential part of liberation. Furthermore, attempts by Hayek et al have not succeeded in rescuing arguments for negative liberty as Berlin formulates them. However, Berlin ???taught us that positive conceptions of liberty must be counterbalanced by negative, since liberty is of significant human value??™ (Crowder2002:96). It is this idea that has been elucidated in the writing following the Two Concepts.
Berlin??™s principle aim was to warn against positive conceptions of liberty because he felt they led toward tyranny to readily and in this, he failed because of an oversimplification and inconsistent explication the ideas behind the two concepts of liberty. Work by Cohen and Steiner have helped to demonstrate that socialist theories of freedom are not dependant on positive conceptions of liberty. MacCallum??™s work as described in the first chapter enabled liberty to be elucidated in the aftermath of the Two Concepts. Although, Berlin??™s ardent support for negative conceptions of liberty aided the rise of the right in the form of Thatcher et al in the decades subsequent to his inaugural lecture. Conversely, it has arguably helped stimulate the third way politics, as put forth in the public works of Skinner, Taylor and the like, which we currently face. This third way liberalism as epitomised by Blair??™s ???New Labour??™ has attempted (to use Swift??™s metaphor) ???to rescue the baby of ???freedom as autonomy??™ form the bathwater of ???freedom consists in doing what a totalitarian state tells you is in your own best interests??™ (Swift2001:89).
Chapter Three: Value pluralism:
This chapter will discuss the links between value monism (VM) and positive conceptions of liberty as well as between value pluralism (VP) and conceptions of negative liberty. Berlin points out that value pluralism highlights the permanence of imperfection and conflict in the political arrangements between people (Berlin1969:168). As such, value monist theories of government are inappropriate because they wrongly assume ???an end to all questions and dissolve all difficulties??™ (Berlin1963:19-20). Liberalism, he argues, is a reasonable response to this conflict because it allows for the greatest range of values (Crowder2002:84) and recognise man as imperfect, Berlin (in Gray1996:38) points out points out that ???every age has provided its own formula??™ for the perfect society??™. The failure of these formulas means it is reasonable to assume that there is none yet found by imperfect men.
William??™s (1979:227) gives an objection to pluralism. He points out that when it is said that values are incommensurable, it is usually general values such as equality and liberty that are understood to be so. Although, he posits that ???obviously there are possible changes by which (say) such a trivial gain in equality was bought by such an enormous sacrifice in liberty that no one who believed in liberty at all could rationally favour it.??™ The claim of incommensurability is important though. This claim does not necessarily result in pathological conflicts and thus the need for the resolution of such claims by some overarching theory is not so great. Williams argues that ???we s