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What is the Difference between the Negative and Positive Conception of Liberty?

By Balaji

Updated on: May 10th, 2023

The Difference between the Negative and Positive Conception of Liberty is that positive liberty is freedom with some constraints, and Negative liberty excludes external interference. Positive liberty means freedom with few restrictions imposed by the government or society, while negative liberty is for an individual, which means complete freedom without interference from outside sources.

Difference between the Negative and Positive Conception of Liberty

The major difference between the Negative and Positive Conception of Liberty is given below.

Negative Liberty Positive Liberty
Freedom with zero external interference. Freedom with certain restraints from the society/government.
Concerns are those areas or domains of an individual’s life that should not be violated. Concerned more with the social behavior of an individual.
Related to the idea of ‘freedom from’. More related to the idea of ‘freedom to’.
More negative liberty results in more freedom. More positive liberty examines the excess of freedom to a person.
Does not relate to society’s conditions. Relates a lot more to society’s conditions.

Negative and Positive Conceptions of Liberty

Liberty is an important privilege for an individual living in a society, but the existence of both positive and negative forms of liberty is equally important in a civilized society.

  • Liberty is another word for freedom; freedom without control may lead to negative consequences.
  • According to the modern definition of liberty, it is the position to stay freely in a society without any control over or restrictions forced by any authority on an individual’s way of life or their opinions on various social and political matters.

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