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POLI 365 - Lecture: Berlin (Feb. 25)

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 365
Jason Scott Ferrell

Feb 25 – Isaiah Berlin − critique of authoritarianism as associated with Marxist-Leninism − defends liberalism Distinction between Negative and Positive Liberty − negative: non-interference − positive: ideal of autonomy − negative concerned with issues of obstruction from coercion − coercion: deliberate interference of other human beings in area in which I could otherwise act − negative liberty: to limit the ability of other individuals to interfere − negative liberty provides freedom in the form of non-interference − for Berlin, negative liberty is an intrinsic part of liberalism − liberalism provides conception of equal liberty or equal rights, which carves out a space of non-interference − negative liberty is not logically incompatible with authoritarianism, nor is it logically tied to democracy − Mill: liberalism provides conditions for human flourishing − Berlin: historically inaccurate − positive liberty is a form of autonomy − addresses extent to which we make our own decisions − a form of freedom that is not concerned with how many opportunities we have, so much as whether or not we are making the decisions ourselves − positive liberty can be understood as a form of self-mastery − we choose for ourselves and are not chosen for − positive liberty as self-abnegation − achieve autonomy by learning to control ourselves − such control takes the form of restraint or denial − we try to free ourselves of influence that causes us to act in unacceptable ways − ex. impulses; appetites − has required distinction between two parts of our identity: reason and passions − usually entailed subordinating the latter to the former − positive liberty as self-realization − we appraise our external circumstance, and act accordingly − we determine why things are the way they are, and then adjust our behaviour to meet our situation − once we've done this, we recognize the limits of what is possible and what is impossible − the idea of positive liberty as self-realization depends on analogies and metaphors drawn from the maths and sciences − we determine the necessity of scientific truths—and we don't challenge them − goal is to free ourselves from irrational or situation forces − positive liberty understood as self-mastery has a role to play in our lives − this is not necessarily incompatible with negative liberty − positive liberty as recognition − (Section 6: Search for Status) − decolonization groups are not making claims for liberty − are confused: groups demand what appears to be negative liberty in the sense of non-interference from outsiders, and they want positive libert
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