Volume 58, Issue 4, December 2018
Isaiah Berlin on Positive Freedom
The aim of this article is to provide a critical examination of Berlin’s treatment of positive freedom by offering a review of his standard arguments against this concept. Throughout his essays and particularly in “Two Concepts of Liberty” Berlin connects the idea of positive freedom with such notions as monism, rationalism, and determinism. Each of these connections will be discussed separately. I will argue that most of Berlin’s arguments against positive liberty are somehow flawed. Although Berlin valued positive freedom as one of the ultimate ends of life, his critical view of the concept should be tempered and contextualized since it was mostly based not on logical or conceptual grounds but on historical and interpretative considerations.