Two Concepts of Liberty Soraj Hongladarom Department of Philosophy Center for Ethics of Science and Technology Faculty of Arts Chulalongkorn University
Imagine you are driving a car through town, and you come to a fork in the road. You turn left, but no one was forcing you to go one way or the other. Next you come to a crossroads. You turn right, but no one was preventing you from going left or straight on. There is no traffic to speak of and there are no diversions or police roadblocks. So you seem, as a driver, to be completely free. From http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/#TwoConLib
But this picture of your situation might change quite dramatically if we consider that the reason you went left and then right is that youre addicted to cigarettes and youre desperate to get to the tobacconists before it closes. Rather than driving, you feel you are being driven, as your urge to smoke leads you uncontrollably to turn the wheel first to the left and then to the right. From http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/#TwoConLib
Moreover, youre perfectly aware that your turning right at the crossroads means youll probably miss a train that was to take you to an appointment you care about very much. You long to be free of this irrational desire that is not only threatening your longevity but is also stopping you right now from doing what you think you ought to be doing. From http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liberty-positive-negative/#TwoConLib
Spinoza – One is only free when one follows reason. Mill – One is only free when there are no obstacles that block one’s choices and action.
One might say that while on the first view liberty is simply about how many doors are open to the agent, on the second view it is more about going through the right doors for the right reasons. ‘Negative’ liberty – absence of coercion, forces that compel us to do this or that ‘Positive’ liberty – presence of something that gives us control of our lives (self-mastery, self-realization)
‘Negative’ liberty – “What is the area within which the subject — a person or group of persons — is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?” ‘Positive’ liberty – “What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that?” Example – Nobody forces me to eat this or that, or not to eat this or that. If I want to eat a lot of pizzas, I can do it. Not eating a lot of pizzas will lead to my true self, my real being. I will be completely free that way.
The two concepts of liberty or freedom point to a fundamental question in political philosophy – Is it the business of the State to promote well-being or self- realization of its citizens, or is its business solely to let the citizens choose whatever course of action they want to do, eliminating any obstacles against the citizens’ choices? Example – 1) Let the citizens do whatever they want with minimal interference; 2) Promote the self-realization of the citizens through active means.
Rousseau’s ‘General Will’ – people will achieve their freedom only when they participate as citizens in the democratic process Government should also aim at creating conditions in which citizens can realize their inner potential. But for negative freedom, state should create conditions where there are genuinely absences of conditions that prevent citizens from doing whatever they choose to do.
Real Life Examples Do we have freedom to smoke? − Negative Liberty: Yes. We ourselves determine for ourselves whether we should smoke or not. Campaigns against smoking work because they lead us to think for ourselves the advantages and disadvantages of smoking. But in the end it is we alone who make the decision.
Do we have the freedom to smoke? − Positive Liberty – No. Because smoking leads you to bad self-actualization. In fact it will likely lead to there being no self on your part at all, because it will likely cause your death. − In order for you to realize your true freedom, the State should have the authority to decide this for you. When you are addicted to cigarettes, your judgment will be clouded so you are actually not free.
Defending Free Speech Mill – “In his famous essay he declares that unless the individual is left to live as he wishes in ‘the part [of his conduct] which merely concerns himself,’ civilisation cannot advance; the truth will not, for lack of a free market in ideas, come to light; there will be no scope for spontaneity, originality, genius, for mental energy, for moral courage. Society will be crushed by the weight of ‘collective mediocrity.’ Whatever is rich and diversified will be crushed by the weight of custom, by men’s constant tendency to conformity, which breeds only ‘withered capacities,’ … (Berlin p. 185). “We must preserve a minimum area of personal freedom if we are not to ‘degrade or deny our nature’ (p. 184).
CriticismsNegative liberty – shallow, lack of substance, no direction, lead to immorality and lack of valuesPositive liberty – tendency toward paternalism and totalitarianism, individual becomes just part of the State machine.
Thailand National Youth PolicyNational youth policy is under Last official youth policy: the responsibility of the Education (9 years Ministry of Social compulsory) Development and Human Security Development of moral characterDoes not get much attention from the government Preventation of AIDSMost policies emphasize that Special help to youths living youths be “good persons” under difficult condition Sctivities to promote youths with spicial talent.
Most other Thai youth policies do not deviate from this trend.