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An analysis of negative liberty

Too many people analyse the concept of negative liberty in a way that obscures its place and significance in our lives. Here I seek to redress the balance by shining light on its structure and value. With respect to the essential structure of negative liberty and unfreedom, I push for a more intuitive, dynamic, and subjectivist agent-centred approach in place of the more mechanistic Hobbesian and austere Hayekian conceptions that have tended to predominate. Emphasising the importance of self-direction, authenticity and self-development to liberty delivers both a more coherent negative concept internally, and a notion that is more compellingly distinguished from its positive counterpart. Regarding liberty's relationship with coercion and manipulation, my explanation is that rational and emotional compulsion constrains negative liberty because it interferes with options and restricts freedom of choice. With respect to the significance of negative freedom and why we care about it, I consider its general, content-independent value to lie in its contributions to autonomy as well as to values more often associated with positive freedom such as individuality and self-realisation. Harnessing Mill's thesis, I highlight the importance of self-understanding and self-knowledge in the process of self-development, and explain from a non-utilitarian angle the nature of the negative opposition to paternalism and control.
Date January 2016
CreatorsSalman, Basil
ContributorsGreen, Leslie
PublisherUniversity of Oxford
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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