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What defines individual freedom in a civilised society? Philosophers have argued over such questions for centuries. This free course, Two concepts of freedom, looks at a positive and a negative concept of freedom, asking you to think carefully about how freedom is restricted by our place in society and how it can vary from state to state.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- distinguish between negative and positive concepts of freedom
- understand the main points in Isaiah Berlin's article ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’
- recognise emotive language, to distinguish between necessary truths and contingent facts, and to appreciate what is involved in refutation by counterexample.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Introducing the concept of freedom
- 2 The word ‘freedom’
- 3 Isaiah Berlin's ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ (1958)
- 4 Conclusion
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
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Two concepts of freedom
‘Freedom’ can mean many different things. Here we're concerned with political freedom. Isaiah Berlin distinguished between a concept of negative freedom and a concept of positive freedom. You will examine these concepts and learn to recognise the difference between freedom from constraint and the freedom that comes from self-mastery or self-realisation.
The following material is taken from the book Arguments for Freedom ‘1999’ authored by Nigel Warburton of The Open University.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 2 study in.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Philosophy courses or view the range of currently available OU Philosophy courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 12th January 2016
Last updated on: Tuesday, 12th January 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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