A New Scheme Of Positive And Negative Freedom: Reconstructing T. H. Green on Freedom

Philosophy Today 31 (4):508-532 (2003)
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Abstract

This article offers a new scheme of the relation between positive and negative freedom that is based on a retrieval of T. H. Green's theory of freedom and on further reconstructions of his theory. Some of the distinctions in the literature have proven difficult to sustain, and this has resulted in a weakening of the dichotomy in principle, and of the concepts of positive and negative freedom independently of each other. The main distinction between negative and positive freedom offered here is based on the relation of freedom to the will. We have two kinds of freedom, in both our private and social spheres, because there are two types of goods that we, as human beings, pursue: ordinary and moral. This distinction proves to be sustainable, manages to explain the antagonistic nature of the two concepts, and provides grounds for the support of the two kinds of freedom in their own right.

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