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

By Shivank Goel|Updated : September 5th, 2022

The difference between the negative and positive conceptions of liberty is that negative liberty for an individual means complete freedom without any interference from external sources, and positive liberty means freedom with certain restrictions imposed by the government or society.

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 and freedom without control may lead to some 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.

Differences between Negative and Positive Liberty

Negative Liberty

Positive Liberty

Freedom with zero external interference

Freedom with certain restraints from the society/government

Concerns 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'

Does not relate to society's conditions

Relates a lot more to society's conditions

Related Questions:-


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  • Liberty means the privilege to enjoy freedom or power in one’s life to live the way he/she is willing to.

  • Positive liberty & Negative liberty are the concepts of liberty. Positive liberty involves some restrictions from society whereas negative liberty doesn’t.

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