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Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry

Negative Freedom? – Emily

The term “negative freedom” can cause quite a bit of confusion at first. When you first hear its name it sounds like something bad, something to be avoided. After all, the term negative means “marked by

denial, prohibition, or refusal” so I automatically assumed that it was the opposite of positive freedom which states that you have the freedom to control and direct

your own life. Now, after reading the introduction text I realized that this is not true.

Negative freedom in fact means that you are free from external interference that may prevent you from what you want to do. Even though I am now clear on what it means I am still unsure of why it’s called negative freedom. Surely there’s another set of terms that would better apply to both positive and negative freedom. Is there a reason that I’ve missed?

Despite this I think that it works well to have it called negative freedom because it’s, at the very least, very easy to remember.

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Discussion

One thought on “Negative Freedom? – Emily

  1. Hi Emily,
    First of all, good work explaining the negative freedom and its difference from positive freedom – very clear and concise. (I had to read many blog posts to get a good idea of what it was – I can only imagine you guys had a super-mega-discussion about this in class) I agree with you that the term “negative freedom” is a strange choice (this, though, coming from someone who hasn’t done much studying on the subject) and it tool me a while to wrap my head around the idea of negative freedom.
    Also, on your mention of negative freedom immediately connoting something bad and to be avoided – well, you never know. Just you wait until the ethics unit 🙂
    Emily V

    Posted by evandervelden | September 16, 2013, 7:24 am

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