Get Instant Help From 5000+ Experts For

Writing: Get your essay and assignment written from scratch by PhD expert

Rewriting: Paraphrase or rewrite your friend's essay with similar meaning at reduced cost

Editing:Proofread your work by experts and improve grade at Lowest cost

And Improve Your Grades
Phone no. Missing!

Enter phone no. to receive critical updates and urgent messages !

Attach file

Error goes here

Files Missing!

Please upload all relevant files for quick & complete assistance.

Guaranteed Higher Grade!
Free Quote

Positive versus Negative Liberty

Discuss about positive versus negative liberty?

The basic concept of liberty is a difference between negative and positive sensitivity. The liberty which is known as freedom from disturbance and type of force into doing something or restraining is negative liberty,(Molivas, 1999) on the other hand liberty which means for freedom or decisions taken by the own or intentionally is known as positive liberty.(Nicholls, 1962) These two conceptions are logically not very big from each of them, but these two concepts of liberty become an argument in history that these two ideas are developing in the different type of many directions. If a single person who has most important part through which one must be free from all types of interference also appreciated by negative liberty and even one can live a happy and true life.

As per the positive views of being free, the self-determination is necessary. Freedom is not bad, but it should be taken in a positive manner only. If a person uses his freedom in a wrong way or uses it with bad intentions, then it is a negative liberty.(Miller, 1984) There are many different ways of thinking to see negative liberty is the absence of external limits, and positive liberty is the absence of internal limits.(BARKER and JAGO, 2011) For example, if the police make a rule that without seat belt no one can drive one car, bus, truck etc. and the person who takes a liberty drive his vehicle by not putting a seatbelt then this freedom is a negative liberty taken by the person.

Most of the writers wrote about the freedom as natural liberty which would be most enjoyed by a single person according to his state of mind and nature. Natural liberty is defined as a power through which a person always thinks fit with no strain or any control from any other sources. In this power the positive liberty is used only for fitness of a person and his personality, self-determination or direction is a sense of liberation. Negative elements are also found in natural liberty. (Levin, 1984)As per the law of nature, this liberty is very limited, but this is effectively outside the general society and also becomes the matter of internal information as well as external concentration.

So the negative liberty becomes the form of negative thoughts. This type of strained freedom is radically defective.(White, 1970) To get the other types of benefits the individual try to start securing its liberty and take place by entering into the society and start obeying all rules and regulations and its law.

Natural Liberty and Negative Liberty

General liberty is a kind of liberty which belongs to a single person individually a society member. When an individual gets ready to agree with the law, it gives up their natural liberty due to self-controlled right behaviour to act as forward thinking fit and get something more and more valuable. Liberty is a concept which is consisting of a specific rights of contents. The absolute right of a person, in general, iscontents of civil liberty. The natural right of an individual is personal security, personal property and liberty which can be used by the person on its own. But in a proper way without ignoring the law. These rights cannot be counted negative but also positive – these rights are not a simple right against the person who interfered by others, but it should be secured in one’s life.(Buttle, 1984)

The unreasonable interferences of government into the general life is also a negative liberty. The law which controls the normal man doing any mischief to his fellow citizens, despite the fact that it’s become less natural which increases the general liberty of mankind. On the positive side, civil liberty is rightly understood, protect the right of individuals in the society. The concept of liberty is protected in two positive ways. One, the traditional thought holds that liberty can not be maintained or support yourself at the basic level when there are no law presents, besides natural liberty is not bonded as well as not defined clearly. It is realized and determined that liberty becomespositive due to the law of civil society. Secondly, an individual can claim the protection in his rights from the community and society member. So in every manner, this is a positive right, which is claimed to society and the community to provide something to an individual is entitled.

When a woman thinks that she is fit according to her body. It’s her right,which includes many things as she wants to be pregnant or not. No one can force a woman into anything physically because this is her right and natural liberty too. As according to our law some of the women are very much harassed because of the interference by others in their lives. As sometimes she cannot live her life by her ways, which is a negative liberty. On the other hand, it is seen that negative liberty normally may be viewed as an extension of political liberty, which consists of natural power through which one can think fit and one wishes without any interference from others. (Pilon, 1982)

General Liberty and Civil Liberty

Negative and positive liberty are not only two different kinds of liberty; but they can also be seen as equal to another, not able exist, for not explaining the meaning of one political ideal. Some of the people are against liberty, the way this term is clarified and defined can have important political suggestions. A person who favours the political philosophy of progress, reform and the protection of civil liberty. By social and political philosophers the difference between positive and negative liberty is an interchange of style and freedom. Some changes have even been made for the difference between liberty and freedom, which is not caught.(Becker and Crocker, 1983)

The concept of liberty - you can imagine that you are driving a vehicle through town, and come to a dividing road where ever you want to go you will be driving and no traffic to speak of and police roadblocks, and diversions. So in that way, you will be the free driver. But your this dramatic picture seems to show about your confused personality while driving car moving and turning from right to left and then left to right, because of no traffic rules were followed by you, even no pressure of police on the road. So in this story, we can say, two contrasting ways of thinking of liberty.(Oakes, 1996) One, that whatever you want while driving, you are free enough if nobody is stopping you from doing anything. You were very much free in the story. On the other side, a person can think of liberty as he or she has to follow the rules and to be under control without any traffic light, traffic police or any type of diversions on the road.

The truth of positive liberty is that some liberals suggest that positive conceptions of liberty carried out with demanding strict obedience to authority. Believe the avoidable events of a permanent and distressed small majority. Because all members of this small group take participation in a democratic process and think to feel free and self-controlled over it’s own. Positive freedom understood self-mastered and one person can choose from society will be governed. Both the conceptions of freedomare always represented valid human ideals, and the both forms of freedom are necessary for general society. The right which carefully thinks about fundamental for the growth of the personality of one person. So, without the liberty, that is without freedom one can not enjoy any other’s life which is somebody’s right. Freedom or liberty is very much loved and careful right of the people.(Gray, 1980)

The Role of Government in Liberty

Normally, in the general society the liberty which means free from controlled behaviour and the freedom by one. So liberty is taken as a negative and a harmful in general society. In our society, no one is permitted to act without a controlled behaviour. In other words, liberty means the absence of not only controlled behaviour but only those slaves controlled behaviour which are held to be reasonable. In negative ways, liberty is taken as granted and not as exceptional for self-controlled behaviour besides liberty can never be accepted by the societies. A negative concept of freedom gets rejected at living times.(Chandler, 1985)

Moreover, the positive liberty under reasonable and logical self-controlled behaviour which are reasonable. It means freedom under the reasonable and necessary self-controlled behaviour is accepted by the law. So, these behaviour ensure the enjoyment of freedom the people. From civil societies, positive freedom can only be available to the people. Liberty is equal and acceptable opportunity for all the people to enjoy their rights. Liberty is a freedom of one who can express without any external obstacle in his personality. Freedom is not the absence of all self-controlled behaviour but to some extent the substitute of reasonable ones for the irrational. Without liberty, no one can live in general life in a good best way. Liberty is a self-maintenance of that atmosphere which is essential to keep the person best. For the enjoyment of right liberty is the totally essential condition. It a positive condition which is never absent from self-controlled behaviour.(Gustavsson, 2014) As a natural liberty, it is very popular concept that the enjoyment of uncontrolled behaviour is natural freedom. When a man is born free, he has the right to enjoy freedom as he wills. All self-controlled behaviour deny the existence of freedom. The basis of liberty is a natural reason. Natural liberty is to be considered as imagination. Uncontrolled behaviour can create complete disorder. It is based on laws and rules which are real and possible. The liberty through which one can enjoy as a member of civil society and available to all individuals equally. Freedom and rights are equally enjoyed by all society persons. Uncontrolled behaviour is not a civil liberty. Civil liberty is totally different from natural liberty. It is counted under the law, create the enjoyment of condition necessary for liberty. It refrains from creating hindrances in the way of liberty for the enjoyment of people. Liberty can be compared withs many different ideas. The basic concept of freedom is a concept on which everyone can get agree. There is freedom to express their views, freedom to speak, choose, reside, explore, trade and to enjoy the success of one’s hard work, free to accept or not to accept any ideology or faith.(Crowder, 1988)

The Concept of Liberty

Economic liberty is defined as freedom for opportunities and daily earnings to secure tomorrow. If a person is free from hunger, starvation and unemployment, then only he or she can enjoy the freedom of economic liberty which is very important for political independence also because when people are hungry, homeless without earnings how they can think of enjoying their rights and freedom.(Insole, 2004)

For independent nation, it is important to give freedom to the people of each state to constitute and organise their government by freely implementing policies and programs to pursue independence in relations with other nations.Religious freedom is not related to any religion; it is concerned with worship and faith. All regions have equal status, and religious people can spend their life with freedom. The liberty which is concerned with work is for securing the self-confidence, and this is main supportive of our moral values.

Rights for every each person living in the society should have no class. Liberty always considered for equal rights without any difference. Advantages and rights are given to specific class are against the soul of liberty. It allows for some special advantages to taking from the section of society and protective differences. The essential safeguard of liberty is the establishment of the legal system. Both of them are attached to each other. Legal systems cannot be conceived without any presence of political, civil, economic and individual liberty. There will be no real democracy in the absence of the right to freedom. Rights and freedom of the people should not depend on the happiness and the will of others. The government should control exercisedby judging and impartially over every section of society to safeguard liberty. An action taken by the government must be responsible and accountable. Rights can also be given judicial protection too; it should be assigned for the responsibilities to protect the freedom and the rights of the people. For following these type of functions, the judiciary must be fully empowered and free.Power should be secured between the executive and the legislature. Liberty will be dangerous due to a combination and concentration of these types of powers.

Against possible dictatorship, it is necessary that power should not be centralised. Every person should be under the law without any bond obligation as no one is above the law. For the safeguard of liberty income, wealth and its resources and proper opportunities for livelihood should be fairly and equally distributed. Well, organized groups are very much essential for the safeguard of liberty. Social service organisations and non-government organisations can act against violation of liberty unitedly.

The Truth of Positive Liberty

Sometimes we raise an objection to using the word liberty. As an argument to the real liberty is the negative sort. However, libertarians take these arguments that positive liberty either doesn't exist, or it is not worthy to take care of it. But positive liberty must be named as power or capacity which cannot be ignored and must be recognized by one and all.

It is evident that the two forms of liberty are related to each other. Positive liberty is exactly the growth of an individual who is free from developing determining his desire and interest comprehensively. Liberty isa self-realization exercised by both the individual and the community and always regulated by law.(Crowder, 2015) Positive liberty follows the ways in which desires are formed. Positive freedom is more difficult a norm to grasp than the negative liberty. The positive freedom is promoted to involve the claim how a person should live, nor it allow, to live life as according to the forced pattern decided by the society.(Christman, 2015) On the other side, negative liberty is what you aren’t prevented from doing. All types of opportunities may be open, giving you a huge amount of negative liberty, and still there are many hindrances to achieving the fruit of the opportunities available. For the realization of freedom, one should take care of that no outer forces should remove one’s desires in a positive or negative way.


It is concluded that there has been an important talk on which form of freedom is superior – positive or negative freedom. It is essential to keep the balance between the concept of liberty. What people are allowed to do to attain positive or negative liberty by living their life in an unconstrained  manner?(Kaplan, 2001)Evidently, some balance has to stick between positive and negative liberty. It has been followed by many that freedom is there, but it must have some boundaries in some way so that its meaning should not be misunderstood. The liberty of some must depend on the restriction of others.


BARKER, S. and JAGO, M. (2011). Being Positive About Negative Facts. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 85(1), pp.117-138.

Becker, L. and Crocker, L. (1983). Positive Liberty: An Essay in Normative Political Philosophy. The Philosophical Review, 92(2), p.243.

Buttle, N. (1984). Negative and Positive Liberty Revisited. Politics, 4(1), pp.24-27.

Chandler, T. (1985). What's Negative about Positive Self Concept?. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 58(5), pp.225-227.

Christman, J. (2015). Freedom in Times of Struggle: Positive Liberty, Again. Analyse & Kritik, 37(1-2).

Crowder, G. (1988). Negative and Positive Liberty. Political Science, 40(2), pp.57-73.

Crowder, G. (2015). Why We Need Positive Liberty. The Review of Politics, 77(02), pp.271-278.

Gray, J. (1980). On Negative and Positive Liberty. Political Studies, 28(4), pp.507-526.

Gustavsson, G. (2014). The Psychological Dangers of Positive Liberty: Reconstructing a Neglected Undercurrent in Isaiah Berlin's “Two Concepts of Liberty”. The Review of Politics, 76(02), pp.267-291.

Insole, C. (2004). The Worship of Freedom: Negative and Positive Notions of Liberty in Philosophy of Religion and Political Philosophy. Heythrop J, 45(2), pp.209-226.

Kaplan, S. (2001). Beyond Positive and Negative Liberty. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, 22(2), pp.165-183.

Kis, J. (2012). Berlin's two concepts of positive liberty. European Journal of Political Theory, 12(1), pp.31-48.

Levin, M. (1984). Negative Liberty. SOY, 2(01), p.84.

Miller, D. (1984). A Rejoinder to N. Buttle: On the Connection between Negative and Positive Liberty.Politics, 4(2), pp.37-39.

Molivas, G. (1999). A right, utility and the definition of liberty as a negative idea: Richard Hey and the Benthamite conception of liberty. History of European Ideas, 25(1-2), pp.75-92.

Nicholls, D. (1962). Positive Liberty, 1880-1914. The American Political Science Review, 56(1), p.114.

Oakes, J. (1996). What's Wrong with "Negative Liberty": [Commentary]. Law & Social Inquiry, 21(1), p.79.

Pilon, J. (1982). The Romanian distinction between negative and positive liberty. Studies in Soviet Thought, 23(2), pp.131-140.

Roxindole - positive on negative, negative on positive. (1994). Inpharma Weekly, &NA;(962), p.8.

White, D. (1970). Negative Liberty. Ethics, 80(3), pp.185-204.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

My Assignment Help. (2017). Positive Versus Negative Liberty. Retrieved from

"Positive Versus Negative Liberty." My Assignment Help, 2017,

My Assignment Help (2017) Positive Versus Negative Liberty [Online]. Available from:
[Accessed 24 February 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'Positive Versus Negative Liberty' (My Assignment Help, 2017) <> accessed 24 February 2024.

My Assignment Help. Positive Versus Negative Liberty [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2017 [cited 24 February 2024]. Available from:

Get instant help from 5000+ experts for

Writing: Get your essay and assignment written from scratch by PhD expert

Rewriting: Paraphrase or rewrite your friend's essay with similar meaning at reduced cost

Editing: Proofread your work by experts and improve grade at Lowest cost

250 words
Phone no. Missing!

Enter phone no. to receive critical updates and urgent messages !

Attach file

Error goes here

Files Missing!

Please upload all relevant files for quick & complete assistance.

Other Similar Samples

sales chat
sales chat