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Negative and positive liberty and the freedom to choose in Isaiah Berlin and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Collignon, Stefan (2018) Negative and positive liberty and the freedom to choose in Isaiah Berlin and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Journal of Philosophical Economics: Reflections on Economic and Social Issues, 12 (1). pp. 36-64. ISSN 1843-2298

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Abstract

Berlin has made the famous distinction between negative and positive liberty. For many liberals, negative liberty is modern individual liberty manifested in markets, while interference by the State is a form of positive liberty. Berlin was also repelled by Rousseau's concept of the general will, which he considered as a form of collectivist holism. The paper argues that this philosophy is a mistaken interpretation of Berlin's two concepts of liberty and of Rousseau's general will. In a simple model of individual and collective choice under conditions of bounded rationality, it is shown that positive and negative liberty are interdependent. The collective choices made under positive liberty can be modeled as the stochastic version of Rousseau's general will, provided that liberal democracy enables the conditions of free public deliberation. In that case, the individual freedom cherished by Berlin is compatible with positive liberty.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2019 09:21
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2019 09:21
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/100491

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