Presentation on theme: "Liberty and the State. Kinds of liberty Negative liberty is freedom from external constraint – nothing and nobody else is making you do anything you dont."— Presentation transcript:
Liberty and the State
Kinds of liberty Negative liberty is freedom from external constraint – nothing and nobody else is making you do anything you dont want to. Positive liberty is freedom to develop and flourish, to be the best you can be. [Not just to do what you want, which is merely the reverse face of negative liberty.]
Think about positive liberty : the ability to develop and flourish, to be the best you can be. Is this really freedom? How does flourishing make you free? In what sense are you unfree if you are not flourishing?
Absence of constraint is a necessary and sufficient condition for negative freedom, but neither necessary nor sufficient for positive freedom. If you are constrained you lack negative freedom, and if you arent you have negative freedom BUT You can have negative freedom (i.e. absence of constraint) without having positive freedom You can be under constraint and still have positive freedom
Platos metaphor for democracy Imagine...a ship in which there is a captain who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering - every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer, though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like it or not – the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer's art, has never seriously entered into their thoughts... Plato, Republic
In Platos view of democracy, the people get what they want (no-one telling them what to do and a drunken party), but not whats good for them (a safe voyage). So they have negative, but not positive liberty. If they had less negative liberty (i.e. if they accepted the guidance of people who knew what was good for them), theyd have more positive liberty (theyd flourish better). This is an authoritarian view – but does that make it wrong?
A key question: Can it properly be the role of the State to ensure that people flourish? For...? Against...? Should the State promote an ideal of positive liberty?