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Mill’s and Green’s accounts of freedom

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documents in English
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6 pages
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  1. Introduction
  2. The idea of distinguishing between a negative and a positive sense
  3. J.S. Mill's defense of the negative concept of liberty
    1. The liberty of an individual
    2. Distinguishing between the private sphere
    3. The limitation of the power of the government
  4. T.H. Green's lecture on Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract
    1. This positive conception of liberty
    2. Advocating of the Factory Acts
  5. Mill's conception of liberty
  6. Charles Taylor's essay
  7. Conclusion: The dichotomy between positive and negative liberty drawn by I. Berlin
  8. Bibliography

?The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.? (J.S. Mill)
?It is the responsibility of the state to maintain the conditions without which a free exercise of the human faculties is impossible?. (T.H. Green)
Explain and critically assess these different accounts of freedom.

The idea of distinguishing between a negative and a positive sense of the term ?liberty' was first examined by Isaiah Berlin in 1958 during a lecture entitled ?Two concepts of Liberty?.He defined negative liberty as the absence of constraints, barriers or obstacles on agents' possible actions and ?positive liberty [as] the possibility of acting in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes.?Positive liberty is associated with the idea of self-mastery, control, self-determination, self-realization.
On one side, theorists in the classical liberal tradition, like Constant, Humboldt, Spencer and Mill, typically argue that it is not desirable for the state to promote the freedom of citizens on their behalf and defend a negative concept of liberty. In On Liberty, written in 1859, Mill states that ?the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.? On the other side, theorists that are critical of the liberal tradition, like Rousseau, Hegel, Marx and T.H. Green, think the state should promote the freedom of citizens and defend a positive concept of political freedom. Green argues that ?it is the responsibility of the state [] to maintain the conditions without which a free exercise of the human faculties is impossible?.
We are going to study these two different accounts of freedom, focusing on J.S. Mill and T.H Green.

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