The London Libertarian

The London Libertarian

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Commentary and debate on politics, economics and culture from a libertarian perspective. To Libertarian Alliance Website >


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positive liberty

LibertyPosted by Jan Lester Sat, June 21, 2014 12:30:53
positive liberty ‘Positive *liberty’ is supposed to be when you are able to do whatever you (ought to) want to do, rather than merely not being actively prevented from doing something (which is ‘negative liberty’). The main problem with ‘positive liberty’ is that it appears to be a tendentious attempt to belittle the *liberal or *libertarian conception of liberty. For ‘positive liberty’ looks much more like ability or, valuable/approved, opportunity (in many cases it is a *privilege at the *tax victims’ expense, who thereby become underprivileged). It is conceptually confusing to try to dress these up as the kind of ‘liberty’ that really matters, rather than to argue for their importance independently and admit that liberty might need to be constrained in order to promote them. It smacks of *politically-correct speak.

A Dictionary of Libertarianism

  • Comments(4)

Posted by Jan Lester Mon, June 23, 2014 13:08:46

Having access to opportunities or resources does not mean that welfare must thereby be achieved: both can be neglected or wasted. Moreover, state expropriation and transfer of resources will tend to undermine economic behaviour, subsidise uneconomic behaviour, and generally disrupt economic calculation. Result: fewer opportunities and resources for all.

Posted by Jan Lester Mon, June 23, 2014 12:54:53

It doesn't seem to be PC to be concerned with human welfare as such. There are consequentialist libertarians who are very un-PC.

Posted by Lee Waaks Sat, June 21, 2014 18:32:44

Positive liberty was recently defined for me as access to opportunities/resources. It seems like opportunity often (always?) collapses into access to resources. In any event, positive liberty looks a lot like welfare as some people conceive it.

Posted by Lee Waaks Sat, June 21, 2014 18:04:52

As you attempt to reconcile liberty/welfare -- or in your case 'negative' liberty and welfare -- how does your concern with welfare avoid charges of PC?