A Society Defined By Positive Rights

3286 Words Dec 6th, 2014 14 Pages
The philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously argued that a society defined by positive rights would lead to despotism. Critically engage this argument, taking into account potential deficiencies in conceptualization of negative human rights.
If negative liberty is concerned with the freedom to pursue one’s interests according to one’s own free will and without “interference from external bodies,” then positive liberty takes up the “degree to which individuals or groups” are able to “act autonomously” in the first place (Berlin, 1958)
Taking this a step back to properly assess where this argument came from is necessary to see when and where the division happened. Revolutions started in the name of ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. These ideologies relate to the first generation rights which are the civil and political rights. These rights were focused on during the Cold War by western states and extend to the definition of liberty. To give a few examples, these rights include; rights to freedom of speech, assembly, the press, and the right to participate in political process. Another representation of ideologies raised in revolutions is equality which extends to second generation rights, which in essence the socioeconomic rights such as education, health care and housing are promoted by socialist nations. There is also reference to third generation rights such as collective or solidarity rights and was championed during the Cold War by developing ‘’Third World’’…
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