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    (Original post by kizer)
    All those people talking about voluntary exchanges assume that liberty means negative liberty - i.e. action unhindered by others. But of course, really our liberty also depends on what sort of people make decisions
    Why "of course"? The arbitrary redefinition of well-established meanings of words isn't convincing and tends the discussion away from substance. Liberty is the freedom to act unhindered by others. Power is the ability to satisfy your desires. Our power is necessarilly restricted by other people's ownership of their person - which stops me satisfying a desire to enslave somebody else.

    (Original post by kizer)
    Example - a man has always wanted to become a lecturer (and is fully qualified to do it), but has an irrational fear of public speaking. He is offered a job, but turns it down because of that fear.

    Trivially the man was always free. However, it seems reasonable to say that if the man gets over his fear of public speaking, he is more free. In this case, the man's positive liberty is increased.
    Why "trivially"? He chose not to become a lecturer because he values the implicit cost of lecturing less than he values his free time.

    And though you say he has "an irrational fear of public speaking," in Communist countries the fear of speaking publicly is perfectly rational. See the Stasi.

    (Original post by kizer)
    Bringing this back to Marx, Marx was very preoccupied with positive liberty. His main worries about capitalism revolve around the sort of men captalism creates - greedy, self-interested, uncultured. The strongest Marxist arguments against capitalism focus on these issues rather than bogus economic ones.
    What is wrong with self-interest? On a utilitarian perspective (ie the satisfaction of most people's desires) Adam Smith was right - self-interested agents maximise their happiness by satisfying the wishes of others in the marketplace. In the absence of self-interest, there is no motive for individuals to innovate, advance and create. A communist society is truly 'the end of history' because it is in a permanent stasis, scientifically and technologically.

    And uncultured? A culture Marx didn't like is perhaps more accurate. Lamentations about "Big Brother" always make me laugh, given that the entire concept of Big Brother is the dystopian Marxist future.

    Also: could somebody answer my query here? I'm genuinely interested to see what sort of defence of "from each according to ability..." is possible that is consistent with the labour theory of value.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Yes, you've made me think about that. What I should be doing is offering individual elements that when combined add up to a coherent whole. I think in retrospect I should have first simply offered a definition of capitalism - there'd still have been plenty of criticism but it would have been more manageable and more easily responded to or researched.

    Hmmm...
    Does this mean you're not going to reply to my post? I don't blame you at all if you don't, given how long and unwieldy the debate is becoming. If you want, I could write a brief criticism in a seperate piece (ie. a series of paragraphs, not line-by-line rebuttal) for you to respond to?
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    (Original post by kizer)
    Bringing this back to Marx, Marx was very preoccupied with positive liberty. His main worries about capitalism revolve around the sort of men captalism creates - greedy, self-interested, uncultured. The strongest Marxist arguments against capitalism focus on these issues rather than bogus economic ones.
    Ah but even that isn't exactly well supported by evidence. Indeed, it may well be, to a degree, the opposite.

    Take a bi-polar society like the US, split down the middle along party lines. If we look at the Democratic voters, left-leaning, big government, traditionally seen as the 'nice' people-orientated party, the source of so many 'workers rights' spiels, union supporters, we see that, despite earning ~6% more than their Republican, capitalist, business orientated, 'nasty' party counterparts, they contribute ~23% less to charity. Now it might be suggested that there's a religious aspect here, I'm not doubting that, but it's still a striking phenomenon; not to mention that the heyday of charitable giving in Britain was during the industrial revolution, in the midst of 'raw capitalism'.

    To add a personal anecdote, I've spent a lot of time in and around the City and know more of these people than you would care to shake a proverbial stick at. This is capitalism concentrated, if it could be bottled the City would be a Ribena-like cordial (lol). In fact it serves as a perfect mini-study of the changes in human behavior; we've gone from the (feudal-esk) old-boys network of chaps in bowlers, through the newly empowered poor-lad-done-good-lorry-driver-turned-trader yuppies who flaunted their new wealth mercilessly onto the current times with a highly meritocratic and competitive generation where conspicuous consumption is a taboo (no 'wads' to be seen), people can be fired if they're spotted in a lap dancing club (sorry, the public stereotypes are ~20 years behind the times) and firms are forced by employee demand to allow days off specifically so that they can tend to their pet charity projects. The current generation of city types are far less 'greedy, self-interested and uncultured' than the public at large, indeed if it weren't for them I doubt much of London's cultural scene would exist (all those art students would be out of a job).
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    I don't know whether this is peripheral to the discussion, but I have a query about Marxist solutions to the ostensible 'exploitation' - the theft of surplus value - which I've never been able to reconcile with other Marxist theory.

    Assuming the LTV is true (which I don't think it is and is beside the point), how does the Marxist/Communist solution - "from each according to ability, to each according to need" - solve this? This slogan implies that, 'at the end of history,' a worker will not retain the full value of his produce, but will only receive according to his need. If worker A works 80 hours and worker B works 40 hours a week, then worker A should be entitled to twice the value of goods as worker B. But he isn't - he's only entitled to it insofar as he 'needs' it. Could somebody try to defend this solution which seems, to me, to leave the problem (if there is one) of confiscated surplus value unsolved.
    Ah, but Comrade, the Stazi would have shot worker B for not working his full 80 hours, and worker A for having too many possessions that caused his need to be less than that of the other Comrades.
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    (Original post by City bound)
    The current generation of city types are far less 'greedy, self-interested and uncultured' than the public at large, indeed if it weren't for them I doubt much of London's cultural scene would exist (all those art students would be out of a job).
    Though the first point seems a bit tenuous - that city traders are altruists - the second point is key and often ignored. Insofar as there have been significant cultural achievements, in the last 300 years or so they have relied almost entirely on the benevolence of wealthy patrons, aristocrats & businessmen.

    The same must be said of practical scientific developments such as the steam engine, which - despite being pursued for selfish motives, by either the investing businessman or the curious scientist - made the tedious, dangerous and 'exploitative' practise of women and children pulling barges obsolete. Who has done more to lift poor people out of poverty - Karl Marx or James Watt? I would venture the latter.

    (Original post by Collingwood)
    Ah, but Comrade, the Stazi would have shot worker B for not working his full 80 hours, and worker A for having too many possessions that caused his need to be less than that of the other Comrades.
    Not under real Communism. Get it right - the USSR, China, Cuba & all those other 'Communist' revolutions were not really Communist. To paraphrase an old Soviet joke - "Will there be a secret police when we get to Communism?" "No; by then, people will have learned to arrest themselves."

    (And for good measure, my favourite USSR joke - "Lenin showed us how to govern; Stalin showed us not how to govern; Khruschev showed us any fool can govern; Brezhnev showed us not any fool can govern.")
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    Why "of course"? The arbitrary redefinition of well-established meanings of words isn't convincing and tends the discussion away from substance. Liberty is the freedom to act unhindered by others. Power is the ability to satisfy your desires. Our power is necessarilly restricted by other people's ownership of their person - which stops me satisfying a desire to enslave somebody else.
    It's not an arbitrary redefinition of words, kizer was referring to the (pretty famous) negative/positive liberty dichotomy. He was "arbitrarily redefining" the word to the extent that he used it in the way that it has been used for nearly a century in discussions of technical political theory.

    What's more, even if we don't buy the negative/positive liberty dichotomy, it doesn't follow that liberty is simply "the freedom to act unhindered". There is a strong tradition of republican liberty which states that we may have freedom to act unhindered, but yet not have liberty.
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    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    It's not an arbitrary redefinition of words, kizer was referring to the (pretty famous) negative/positive liberty dichotomy. He was "arbitrarily redefining" the word to the extent that he used it in the way that it has been used for nearly a century in discussions of technical political theory.
    I'm well aware of the distinctions between 'negative' and 'positive' liberty which Isiaih Berlin spelled out about 50 years ago. The point I was trying to make is that the tradition pre-Marx and pre-Hegel of the concept of liberty and freedom were generally understood to mean the absence of coercion. Descriptive words like 'freedom' and 'liberty' only have meaning insofar as they are specific. Marx and Hegel deliberately corrupted these words - see Popper, Open Society vol 2 pg 42 (my copy) - and suggested that there was some objective standard of 'real freedom' as opposed to 'formal bourgeois freedom'. Hegel's dialectic & Marx's implementation is shameless in the deliberate conflation of contrasting ideas and thus rendering them imprecise and, by the attachment and implicit understanding of derogatory adjectives such as 'bourgeois' and 'formal' undermining and corrupting the understood established terminology.

    The notion that there are different 'types' of freedom is nonsense. 'Negative' and 'positive' liberty, accepting Berlin's usage, correspond to freedom from coercion and power to satisfy. There's no platonic form of 'freedom' of which these are two components - they are mutually exclusive.

    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    What's more, even if we don't buy the negative/positive liberty dichotomy, it doesn't follow that liberty is simply "the freedom to act unhindered". There is a strong tradition of republican liberty which states that we may have freedom to act unhindered, but yet not have liberty.
    I'm not familiar with what you mean by 'a strong tradition of republican liberty'. Google just spurns out the libertarian wing of the Republican Party.

    But I fundamentally disagree with your first point - there is no such metaphysical 'idea' of liberty, as I said earlier, and the definition of liberty is understood to mean precisely the absence of coercion by other people.

    The classical liberal right has compromised far too much on its terminology, especially to the 'advanced' Lloyd George liberals. Following Hayek (and hating neologisms, despite my complaints above) classical liberals, free-marketeers and 'libertarians' should coalesce, imo, around Whiggery.
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    I'm well aware of the distinctions between 'negative' and 'positive' liberty which Isiaih Berlin spelled out about 50 years ago. The point I was trying to make is that the tradition pre-Marx and pre-Hegel of the concept of liberty and freedom were generally understood to mean the absence of coercion. Descriptive words like 'freedom' and 'liberty' only have meaning insofar as they are specific. Marx and Hegel deliberately corrupted these words - see Popper, Open Society vol 2 pg 42 (my copy) - and suggested that there was some objective standard of 'real freedom' as opposed to 'formal bourgeois freedom'. Hegel's dialectic & Marx's implementation is shameless in the deliberate conflation of contrasting ideas and thus rendering them imprecise and, by the attachment and implicit understanding of derogatory adjectives such as 'bourgeois' and 'formal' undermining and corrupting the understood established terminology.
    Popper's wrong. Freedom was not simply defined as the absence of coercion pre-Hegel. The republican tradition of liberty (which I'll get to in a moment) dates back to classical times, and it comes through in Hobbes and Locke also.
    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    The notion that there are different 'types' of freedom is nonsense. 'Negative' and 'positive' liberty, accepting Berlin's usage, correspond to freedom from coercion and power to satisfy. There's no platonic form of 'freedom' of which these are two components - they are mutually exclusive.
    Nope. Rousseau and Nozick are not talking about exactly the same thing when they refer to freedom, are they? If there were only one concept of freedom (not the same as saying that there is only one concept of freedom that isn't crap) then Rousseau and Nozick would be talking about the same thing, to the extent that they both clearly know how to use words.
    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    I'm not familiar with what you mean by 'a strong tradition of republican liberty'. Google just spurns out the libertarian wing of the Republican Party.

    But I fundamentally disagree with your first point - there is no such metaphysical 'idea' of liberty, as I said earlier, and the definition of liberty is understood to mean precisely the absence of coercion by other people.
    Republican liberty is a tradition that dates back to the classical era (ie. Republican Rome). It has nothing to do with the Republicans in the USA.

    Proponents of republican freedom (eg. Pettit, Arendt) do not think that negative freedom provides an adequate analysis of freedom. For, there are theoretical situations (the contented slave) in which one is negatively free, yet one is not free. Republican liberals do not define freedom merely as the absence of coercion, but they define freedom as non-domination. Under freedom as non-domination, one is (correctly) rendered unfree in the case of the contented slave.

    No idea what you mean by a 'metaphysical' idea of liberty. But we don't have to talk metaphysics to realise that there's more than one credible view of liberty (I myself take the republican standpoint).
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    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    Popper's wrong. Freedom was not simply defined as the absence of coercion pre-Hegel.
    Popper's point is that Hegel, serving his absolutist monarch Frederick William III of Prussia, deliberately manipulated a laudatory term like liberty into its precise opposite. Eg. (I quote from OS&E2 here)

    'As regards liberty,' Hegel writes, 'in former times, the legally defined rights, the private as well as public rights of a city &c, were called its "liberties." Really, every genuine law is a liberty; for it contains a reasonable principle...; which means, in other words, that it embodies a liberty...' Now this argument, which tries to show that 'liberty' is the same as 'a liberty' and therefore the same as 'law', from which it follows that the more laws, the more liberty is clearly nothing but a clumsy statement of the paradox of freedom [understood by Popper to mean the absence of coercion] first discovered by Plato... a paradox that can be expressed by saying that unlimited freedom leads to its opposite, since withouts its protection and restriction by law, freedom must lead to a tyranny of the strong over the weak. This paradox, vaguely restated by Rousseau, was solved by Kant, who demanded that the freedom of each man should be restricted, but not beynod what is necesssary to safeguard and equal degree of freedom for all.

    In precis, Hegel rejects this and concludes that absolute monarchy is perfect and embodies the concept of liberty. Popper's argument is against this type of deliberate obfuscation of terms.

    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    Nope. Rousseau and Nozick are not talking about exactly the same thing when they refer to freedom, are they? If there were only one concept of freedom (not the same as saying that there is only one concept of freedom that isn't crap) then Rousseau and Nozick would be talking about the same thing, to the extent that they both clearly know how to use words.
    But we must be clear that they are talking about different, mutually exclusive things. Whereas, when kizer says "But of course, really our liberty..." he implies that there is something deficient - as Hegel & Marx do - in the traditional concept of liberty; that is only half-complete. Instead of attacking and repudiating terms such as 'liberty' and 'freedom,' they have been appropriated to express precisely the opposite of their understood meaning - in this case, servility to the state or the rest of mankind.

    When I talk later on about a metaphysical conception, I mean that there is no perfect idea of 'liberty' which is necessarily desirable. Just calling something - whether it be the absence of coercion by other people or obedience to an absolute monarch - "liberty" or "freedom" does not necessarily mean that it is good. These words are just short hands to express a more detailed concept. Every time I write liberty I could just as easily write absence from coercion. But if other people - and this is largely due to philosophers like Hegel & Marx - insist that 'true' liberty or 'true' freedom is something different and appropriate those labels against the general individualist meaning hitherto accepted then the word loses its meaning. There is no such thing as 'true' X or 'true' Y - there is Positive Liberty, entailing the satisfaction of desires, and Negative Liberty, entailing the absence of coercion - but not 'True' Liberty. Vitally, positive liberty and negative liberty are NOT both components of 'true liberty' - they mean totally different and irreconcilable concepts.

    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    Proponents of republican freedom (eg. Pettit, Arendt) do not think that negative freedom provides an adequate analysis of freedom. For, there are theoretical situations (the contented slave) in which one is negatively free, yet one is not free. Republican liberals do not define freedom merely as the absence of coercion, but they define freedom as non-domination. Under freedom as non-domination, one is (correctly) rendered unfree in the case of the contented slave.
    Hmm. "The contented slave" is, by dint of his enslavement, not negatively free. He is coerced qua slave. Somebody who chooses to be a slave - because they like it (if I've understood you correctly) - I would prefer to call a volunteer.

    Your final sentence, though, illustrates what I was trying to argue above. To say one is "correctly" free implies we have a common yardstick of freedom - ie. that you and I could substitute a longer description of it which matched exactly - or that your standard of 'freedom' is superior to mine. Generally - prior to the French Revolution (just a convenient chronological stick), liberty was taken to be the shorthand for the absence of coercion. Thereafter, different conceptions appropriated that name. In my opinion, we must be precise; two different things cannot have the same short hand word. Thus the new conception must create its own terminology - it cannot, honestly - corrupt that of the established meaning by deliberately misusing words. That is precisely what Marx, Hegel & the collectivist movements that followed them have done, and to me, represents a dishonest but deliberate attempt to weaken their opponent's philosophical & political arguments.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Similarly, Marxists regard capitalism as centrally characterised by social organisation in which the means of production are removed from one group and placed into the hands of another; something which doesn't even register with the pro-capitalists.
    In what system of social organisation have all workers ever commanded the means by which they produce? Only in the case of subsistence agriculture dominated economies is this largely the case - almost all capital is possessed by respective tradesmen and labourers. In such cases the dominant system of social organisation tends to be conformity to tradition; the sons of peasants work the fields and the sons of blacksmiths follow their fathers, all working to meet the social expectations of parents and others within a tight community. There is limited scope for pursuit of maximum profit and earnings, and very little application of physical coercion.

    A social system which organises production through strong conformity to social expectations really does have to be static and traditional. For there to be any division of labour at all, such a society would have to be the most non-egalitarian and nepotistic imaginable. An individual eager to fulfil expectations of others, would require exposure to definitive and consistent expectations as to what career to pursue, what interests to hold, etc; on what basis could such expectations for the child be held from early childhood onwards, if not made according to parental background?

    If you reject the most static and constricting means of organising the means of production, then you are left with two alternatives: coercion by an organising body, or the market mechanism. Can either of these give all workers the control over the means of production that you seem determined must exist?

    Coercion by an organising body, where such coercion is extensive, automatically means that all workers lose any control they might individually have for the means of production - even if they are members of subsistence agricultural communities. Suddenly, dictats may bring about the end of century old traditions, workers may be reallocated at whim, and lands and tools can be appropriated by the state. Even where "the workers" - or their representatives - are what constitute the organising body, all individual workers can only be separated from means of production by such a system.

    Capitalism however, does not forcibly separate any individual from their means of production. Subsistence communities can persist in their obedience to tradition, and live in seclusion. Capitalism does however, as a system, promote the creation of new means of production and the accumulation of capital, which offer workers opportunities for greater specialisation, productivity and earnings. Workers may voluntarily separate themselves from the traditional means of production over which they had direct control, in order to enjoy a higher material standard of living. Where is the problem with this? Can you conceive a system of organisation which would give all workers control over the means by which they produce, and allow society to be as egalitarian (in the social mobility sense) as it is at present?

    Where you talk of means of production being removed from one group and placed into the hands of another, what is actually happening is that the latter group is creating new means of production, and allowing the former access to them. Another important point i suppose is that these two groups are not mutually exclusive and are categories which have little real social existence - the fact of owning shares does not preclude you from working for a firm with equipment that you do not entirely control; you can't identify workers by their sweat and the bourgeoisie by their top hats.
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    Popper's point is that Hegel, serving his absolutist monarch Frederick William III of Prussia, deliberately manipulated a laudatory term like liberty into its precise opposite. Eg. (I quote from OS&E2 here)
    I'm not a Hegelian (thank God). But it is false that freedom pre-Hegel was generally (and certainly not universally) understood to mean the absence of coercion. I have provided counter-examples to that view.

    What's more, even if we are negative liberals, we still have good reason to care about the plight of the poor (from a perspective of freedom). See Waldron's Homelessness and the issue of liberty.
    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    But we must be clear that they are talking about different, mutually exclusive things. Whereas, when kizer says "But of course, really our liberty..." he implies that there is something deficient - as Hegel & Marx do - in the traditional concept of liberty; that is only half-complete. Instead of attacking and repudiating terms such as 'liberty' and 'freedom,' they have been appropriated to express precisely the opposite of their understood meaning - in this case, servility to the state or the rest of mankind.
    I don't see why we can't have a mixture of positive and negative liberty. That seems to be what we have now, in fact. I also can't see why we can't think that a mix of positive and negative liberty is desirable (and agree that they are different concepts).
    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    When I talk later on about a metaphysical conception, I mean that there is no perfect idea of 'liberty' which is necessarily desirable. Just calling something - whether it be the absence of coercion by other people or obedience to an absolute monarch - "liberty" or "freedom" does not necessarily mean that it is good. These words are just short hands to express a more detailed concept. Every time I write liberty I could just as easily write absence from coercion. But if other people - and this is largely due to philosophers like Hegel & Marx - insist that 'true' liberty or 'true' freedom is something different and appropriate those labels against the general individualist meaning hitherto accepted then the word loses its meaning. There is no such thing as 'true' X or 'true' Y - there is Positive Liberty, entailing the satisfaction of desires, and Negative Liberty, entailing the absence of coercion - but not 'True' Liberty. Vitally, positive liberty and negative liberty are NOT both components of 'true liberty' - they mean totally different and irreconcilable concepts.
    I haven't heard an argument as to why there cannot be a mix of negative and positive (ie. we need negative to X degree, and positive to Y degree) liberty in 'true' liberty. If you don't like the metaphysical connotations of 'true', we can call it something else, such as 'morally desirable liberty', or what have you. Of course, an argument would be necessary to establish that that sort of mixed liberty would be morally desirable, but that's not what we're discussing. We're discussing whether the claim that we should have some negative and some positive is coherent, and it certainly is.
    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    Hmm. "The contented slave" is, by dint of his enslavement, not negatively free. He is coerced qua slave. Somebody who chooses to be a slave - because they like it (if I've understood you correctly) - I would prefer to call a volunteer.
    No, he is negatively free.

    The contented slave analogy goes something like this:

    Suppose you have a slave whose master is a nice person. The master could beat the slave, could make him do whatever the master wants, if the master so wanted. But, the master does not want to do these sorts of things - instead, he lets the slave do whatever he wants - he never interferes. There is thus no coercion (since the master explicitly chooses not to do any action which coerces the slave). The slave is 'free' to do whatever action he wants to do - he is not going to be coerced. There is thus no coercion, and so the slave is negatively free (absence of coercion).

    Whilst the slave is negatively free, the slave is not free.
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    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    I'm not a Hegelian (thank God). But it is false that freedom pre-Hegel was generally (and certainly not universally) understood to mean the absence of coercion. I have provided counter-examples to that view.
    Would you agree that it is meaningless to use the word 'liberty' for both 'absence of coercion' and 'total coercion by the state'? These are by definition contradictory concepts. You're right that there were different traditions of 'liberty' advanced by Rousseau and Locke; but clearly, Hegel's specific version (ie, the longhand definition for which liberty is a short hand) is the diametric opposite of Locke's. But he fraudulently, using his illegitimate dialectical technique of identity, equates 'servility' with 'absence of coercion.' Thus the term 'liberty' becomes totally meaningless.

    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    What's more, even if we are negative liberals, we still have good reason to care about the plight of the poor (from a perspective of freedom). See Waldron's Homelessness and the issue of liberty.
    If you are a negative liberal and repudiate acts of aggression (coercion) then you can only care about the poor as an individual - you can't make anybody else do it, because that would be a form of coercion. You can try to persuade them, of course, but they don't have to listen.

    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    I don't see why we can't have a mixture of positive and negative liberty. That seems to be what we have now, in fact. I also can't see why we can't think that a mix of positive and negative liberty is desirable (and agree that they are different concepts).

    I haven't heard an argument as to why there cannot be a mix of negative and positive (ie. we need negative to X degree, and positive to Y degree) liberty in 'true' liberty. If you don't like the metaphysical connotations of 'true', we can call it something else, such as 'morally desirable liberty', or what have you. Of course, an argument would be necessary to establish that that sort of mixed liberty would be morally desirable, but that's not what we're discussing. We're discussing whether the claim that we should have some negative and some positive is coherent, and it certainly is.
    I disagree vehemently. If you believe in negative liberty, you are opposed to acts of coercion (ie. aggression against property and person). If you believe in positive liberty, you in favour of maximising people's ability to satisfy their wants. If in maximising satisfaction, you resort to coercion (taxation, theft, slavery &c), then you violate the principle of negative liberty.

    You describe above that we currently have a mix of positive and negative liberty. I disagree. Under all societies where some form of coercion takes place, the principle of negative liberty is breached. Negative liberty is premised upon natural law; that is, that each man owns himself and the produce of his labour; and that no man has a claim to the person or produce of another. To increase the number of wants that can be satisfied, in the present society, there are transfer payments (unemployment benefits, state pensions &c). Thus, the recipient (or their proxy, the state) claims that he has a right to the produce (money) of another person. This clearly and irrefutably contradicts the principle of negative liberty.

    In a society which adhered to negative liberty, no individual A could compel another individual B to hand over their produce or submit their person on any terms other than those voluntarily consented to by individual B.

    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    No, he is negatively free.

    The contented slave analogy goes something like this:

    Suppose you have a slave whose master is a nice person. The master could beat the slave, could make him do whatever the master wants, if the master so wanted. But, the master does not want to do these sorts of things - instead, he lets the slave do whatever he wants - he never interferes. There is thus no coercion (since the master explicitly chooses not to do any action which coerces the slave). The slave is 'free' to do whatever action he wants to do - he is not going to be coerced. There is thus no coercion, and so the slave is negatively free (absence of coercion).

    Whilst the slave is negatively free, the slave is not free.
    You say he "is 'free' to do whatever action he wants to do". If that includes breaking the bond of servility (ie, removing the power of another person to coerce him), then he is is negatively free - he has voluntarily consented to be a slave. Whereas if he cannot choose to break the bond, he is not negatively free.
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    ^^ Whoa whoa whoa. Totally disagree.

    Positive liberty does not necessarily require coercion at all! Probably the opposite. Not meaning to patronise, but sure Mill's On Liberty is a good to place to show how negative liberty begets positive liberty (in that case idealistic libery)? I know that Berlin worries about conceptions of positive liberty forming a justification for paternalism, but that is a misapplication of the idea of positive liberty. Some conceptions of positive liberty do require coercion (most famously Rousseau's "forced to be free" scenario) - but in those cases the coercion is minimal and rewards great (assuming you buy their arguments, which I don't).

    Anyway, while you may not like my dismissal of a purely negative definition of liberty, I'm not exactly revolutionary in saying it - cf. Charles Taylor, "What's wrong with negative liberty" as the best attack on it I have found.
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    (Original post by kizer)
    Positive liberty does not necessarily require coercion at all!
    Would you agree that positive liberty is the ability to satisfy your desires? If so, and your desire (for example) is to be treated by a doctor, then your claim for positive liberty necessarily coerces somebody else (a doctor) to treat you. If your desire (the example you used earlier) is to be a lecturer, then your claim for positive liberty necessarily coerces somebody else to listen to you.

    If a doctor doesn't want to treat you, or a student doesn't want to attend a lecture, then, to satisfy your desire (ie to maximise postive liberty) to must compel them. Which means that there can be no individual liberty, but rather a sort of mutual servility.

    And how do you adjudicate in conflicts in positive liberty? Say, for example, I want to be treated by a doctor, but the doctors wants to be a farmer. Whose desire must be satisfied? Negative liberty is individual liberty, Positive liberty is collective (eg. a nation being able to import luxury goods).

    (Original post by kizer)
    Not meaning to patronise, but sure Mill's On Liberty is a good to place to show how negative liberty begets positive liberty (in that case idealistic libery)?
    I don't know what you mean. Could you explain to me how On Liberty does that? It seems to me (and I have my copy in front of me) that the utilitarian standard Mill imposes just leads to utter incoherency - he arbitrarily demands that people do some random positive things, then says "there are often good reasons for not holding him to the responsibility." At another point in the introduction he says, for example, "There are also many positive acts for the benefit of others, which he may be rightfully compelled to perform... such as to bear his fair share in the common defence, or any other joint work necessary to the interest of the societ of which he enjoys protection." If you're compelled to work, that's a clear violation of negative liberty.

    (Original post by kizer)
    I know that Berlin worries about conceptions of positive liberty forming a justification for paternalism, but that is a misapplication of the idea of positive liberty.
    Paternalism is where you treat adults as children and compel them to accept things that are 'in their best interest'. That's precisely what positive liberty does.

    (Original post by kizer)
    Anyway, while you may not like my dismissal of a purely negative definition of liberty, I'm not exactly revolutionary in saying it - cf. Charles Taylor, "What's wrong with negative liberty" as the best attack on it I have found.
    I have no problem with people opposing negative liberty. I just disliked the precise way you did it, saying "But of course, really our liberty depends on others..." As I tried to make clear, the mistaken idea that there is 'true' or 'real' liberty is nonsense, because 'liberty' is just a shorthand for a more complex definition.

    [I'm not familiar with the work of Charles Taylor, by the way, so I can't criticise that precise point - though I did momentarily laugh thinking that it was the Liberian president now on trial for war crimes. John Rawls, we can discuss - but Nozick's appendix to A Theory of Justice was much more convincing, imo]
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    Positive liberty is not at all the ability to satisfy your desires! As far as I can tell, that is a reformulation of what negative liberty is.

    Positive liberty is rather people being free by being the sort of person who can make good decisions - as in, it matters how your desire is formed.

    On Liberty is a classic example because the point of giving people negative liberty is that they develop their own ways of making themselves happy. They become thoughtful, strong, rational characters, tolerant and diverse. To quote Mill:

    "It is not just what actions men do, but the sort of men that do them."

    The beginning of chapter 3 goes into this in particular, although it is prevalent throughout.
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    Where you talk of means of production being removed from one group and placed into the hands of another, what is actually happening is that the latter group is creating new means of production, and allowing the former access to them. Shaun39.
    As capitalism establishes itself an increasing number of people are bound-up with its process. I live in the UK, I own no land nor hold any capital. The means of production are not mine; I don't have any ability to provide for my needs other than through wage-labour. Obviously capitalism is not necessarily a completely all-embracing system, as Marx understood, and elements of the previous social arrangements can survive (we still have an aristocracy for example). But for the vast majority of people in an advanced-capitalist state they must wage-labour in order to satisfy their needs. We can't just step outside of the capitalist paradigm, whether we like the paradigm or not. I said earlier that capitalism is not necessarily all-embracing, but it's all-embracing enough to the vast majority of us.

    It follows that no matter how positively or negatively I view the wage-labour system, it's still system I must conform to in order to survive. In such a system all I have is my labour skills and I must 'bargain' with one capitalist or another.
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    (Original post by kizer)
    Positive liberty is not at all the ability to satisfy your desires! As far as I can tell, that is a reformulation of what negative liberty is.
    Wikipedia:
    Positive liberty was first explicitly stated by Isaiah Berlin in 1958. It refers to the opportunity and ability to act to fulfill one's own potential, as opposed to negative liberty, which refers to freedom from restraint....

    Positive liberty is often described as personal ability to achieve certain ends.
    I hate to resort to wikpedia, but that is the understood meaning of positive liberty.

    (Original post by kizer)
    Positive liberty is rather people being free by being the sort of person who can make good decisions - as in, it matters how your desire is formed.
    Political liberty is an interpersonal concept. He is not concerned, as Mill says on page 1, line 1 of On Liberty, with "the so-called Liberty of the Will... but Civil, or Social Liberty; the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual."

    (Original post by kizer)
    On Liberty is a classic example because the point of giving people negative liberty is that they develop their own ways of making themselves happy. They become thoughtful, strong, rational characters, tolerant and diverse.
    Again, I disagree. Quoting from first page of chapter 3, which you reference in your post:

    "Acts, of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be...[controlled] by the active interference of mankind. The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited: he must not make himself a nuisance to other people. But if he refrains from molesting others in what concerns them, and merely acts according to his own inclination and judgement in things which concern himself, the same reasons which show that opinion should be free, prove also that he sould be allowed, without molestation, to carry his opinions into practice at his own cost."

    Hence, Mill uses negative liberty here to show that even if people make choices that are not "thoughtful, strong, rational..., tolerant and diverse", they cannot justly be interfered with - they must solely bear the cost of their (bad) choices.
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    Wikipedia:

    I hate to resort to wikpedia, but that is the understood meaning of positive liberty.


    Political liberty is an interpersonal concept. He is not concerned, as Mill says on page 1, line 1 of On Liberty, with "the so-called Liberty of the Will... but Civil, or Social Liberty; the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual."


    Again, I disagree. Quoting from first page of chapter 3, which you reference in your post:

    "Acts, of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be...[controlled] by the active interference of mankind. The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited: he must not make himself a nuisance to other people. But if he refrains from molesting others in what concerns them, and merely acts according to his own inclination and judgement in things which concern himself, the same reasons which show that opinion should be free, prove also that he sould be allowed, without molestation, to carry his opinions into practice at his own cost."

    Hence, Mill uses negative liberty here to show that even if people make choices that are not "thoughtful, strong, rational..., tolerant and diverse", they cannot justly be interfered with - they must solely bear the cost of their (bad) choices.

    I am not defending the notion that people can be justly interfered with, when their actions concern themselves only.

    The wikipedia quote supports my definition! It doesn't say fufil desires, it says potential. And that is exactly what I'm talking about - the potential to become a thoughtful, strong person. For Mill, granting people negative liberty over actions that concerns themselves develops this positive liberty. Note - I accept that Mill is not entirely consistent - in particular his corn dealer example. But that is the thrust of his work.

    Have to get dinner now, speak soon..
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    (Original post by kizer)
    I am not defending the notion that people can be justly interfered with, when their actions concern themselves only.
    That is precisely what positive liberty entails. From the Stanford Philosohy Encyclopedia:
    Many liberals, including Berlin, have suggested that the positive concept of liberty carries with it a danger of authoritarianism. Consider the fate of a permanent and oppressed minority. Because the members of this minority participate in a democratic process characterized by majority rule, they might be said to be free on the grounds that they are members of a society exercising self-control over its own affairs. But they are oppressed, and so are surely unfree...

    Such justifications of oppression in the name of liberty are no mere products of the liberal imagination, for there are notorious historical examples of their endorsement by authoritarian political leaders. Berlin, himself a liberal and writing during the cold war, was clearly moved by the way in which the apparently noble ideal of freedom as self-mastery or self-realization had been twisted and distorted by the totalitarian dictators of the twentieth century - most notably those of the Soviet Union - so as to claim that they, rather than the liberal West, were the true champions of freedom.
    You surely can't say that Isaiah Berlin's definition of postive liberty is 'wrong,' since he invented the term to describe precisely the satisfaction of what you want.

    (Original post by kizer)
    The wikipedia quote supports my definition! It doesn't say fufil desires, it says potential. And that is exactly what I'm talking about - the potential to become a thoughtful, strong person.
    1. Who determines an individual's "potential"? For me, it's the individual, as in the lecturer example scared of public speaking you brought up. "Potential" is just a euphemism for "want." It's what we think we're capable of and entitled to.
    2. If you concede the first point there but not the second - the individual is the determinant of his "potential" - then each individual may have a different "potential." So when you say, "the potential to become a thoughtful, strong person," that might be your conception of your potential. But I may have a different one - for example, suppose I have the "potential" to become a doctor. There's no universal potentiality for all men because each man is independent and unique. Generalised teleological explanations (such as the "potential to become a thoughtful, strong person") are oversimplifed and rendered inadequate by the distinctions between men's capacity.
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    ^^ ? What?

    Berlin did not invent the conception of positive liberty. In 'two concepts of liberty' he did go into the distinction between positive and negative liberty, and yes, he did worry about positive liberty being used as justification for oppression. But his word is not gospel - IMO far more convincing accounts of positive liberty rely on the absence of oppresion - that is, they are tied up with ideas of negative liberty.

    Using the Soviet Union as an example of why positive liberty is a flawed way of thinking of liberty is a straw man, because obviously I agree that the Soviet Union did not promote positive liberty.


    The fact that I don't know what someone else's potential is is not a problem for positive liberty - why should it be? It is only a problem for the flawed means of achieving positive liberty that Berlin worried about. The fact remains that they are freer the closer they get to realising their potential, assuming they do it on their own terms, with advice and warning from others as appropriate.

    I absolutely disagree that 'potential' is a euphemism for 'want'. It may well be the case that those who misapply the concept of positive liberty make such errors, but those are deviations from the concept, not the concept itself.
 
 
 
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