What Have Theorists Meant by Liberty? Essay example

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Liberty is a value that each person in a democratic society takes for granted. Taking this value from us, would remove the opportunity for individuals to make their own choices in life. Liberty is not a value that is constant throughout the various societies in the world, citizens of developed Western countries could be described has having considerably more liberty when compared with many of the less developed Arab nations. Theorists have studied the concept of liberty for centuries and there have been a number of different definitions, from people like Machiavelli to more modern theorists like Mill. It is the fundamental value that allows people to make decisions for themselves in civilised society. Without liberty, people would …show more content…
`The aim of the ancients was the sharing of social power among the citizens of the same fatherland: this is what they called liberty. The aim of the moderns is the enjoyment of security in private pleasures; and they call liberty the guarantees accorded by institutions to these pleasures.'

Philosophers have advocated different views about the nature of freedom in society, positive freedom and negative freedom. Isaiah Berlin described negative freedom as `the absence of external constraints imposed by humans'. Negative freedom is essentially the right to do what we want providing there is no law against performing the act and by performing the act we will not harm another individual. Positive freedom on the other hand is being your own master, being able to become your true self. Hollis (1996: 71) makes an interesting point when he states that there is very little difference between these forms of freedom except in language only, `Freedom from interference is freedom to do what one wants; freedom to flourish is freedom from impediments to one's flourishing'.

The framers of the `American Declaration of Independence' (1776) were influenced by John Locke, specifically the second of his `Two Treatises on Government' (1690). The Declaration of Independence (1776) gives each American the right to `life, liberty and

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