The Journal of Philosophical Economics: Reflections on Economic and Social Issues

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Stefan COLLIGNON
ARTICLES
Negative and positive liberty and the freedom to choose in Isaiah Berlin and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Stefan COLLIGNON)
Abstract: Berlin has made the famous distinction between negative and positive liberty. For many liberals, negative liberty is modern individual liberty manifested in markets, while interference by the State is a form of positive liberty. Berlin was also repelled by Rousseau’s concept of the general will, which he considered as a form of collectivist holism. The paper argues that this philosophy is a mistaken interpretation of Berlin’s two concepts of liberty and of Rousseau’s general will. In a simple model of individual and collective choice under conditions of bounded rationality, it is shown that positive and negative liberty are interdependent. The collective choices made under positive liberty can be modeled as the stochastic version of Rousseau’s general will, provided that liberal democracy enables the conditions of free public deliberation. In that case, the individual freedom cherished by Berlin is compatible with positive liberty. [Volume XII Issue 1 (Autumn 2018)] Read the article ...
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