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Distinguish Between Negative and Positive Freedom and Explain the Implications Each for the State

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Negative freedom is the absence of external restrictions or constraints on the individual, allowing freedom of choice. It is non-interference with the absence of external constraints upon the individual. The individual is left at liberty to act how they wish and allows people to go about their own way. Individual liberty can therefore be maximised, but only if limits are defined upon law and government. The state should protect three basic rights of life: life, liberty and poverty therefore preserving public order. Above all, classical liberalists believe in laissez-faire economics; free market, private enterprise capitalism and the absolute right of the individual to enter and succeed or fail in the market on their own merits, without state help or hindrance. This form of meritocracy, where people succeed or fail only on their own abilities and efforts is a guarantee of social justice.

Negative freedom therefore has significant implications on the checks within our society, both within law and physical constraint. Negative freedom thus is upheld primarily through checks on government power, such as a codified construction and bill of rights, resulting in negative freedoms to include civil liberties, freedom of speech and freedom of movement. Negative freedom would also only allow state intervention to prevent harm from others, and that would be their role. It's the rolling back of the state then which is important as it puts the responsibilities on to the individual and not the state to lead and dictate. If the government was to intervene, it's getting involved in our freedoms, affecting our privacy and choice.

Positive freedom is the self-mastery or self-realisation and the achievement of autonomy, as well as the development of human capacities. Freedom is simply seen as positive, as it is linked to an identifiable goal or benefit. The most common theme however on positive freedom is that it is based upon the ideas of personal development and self-realisation. Socialists, for example, have seen freedom as a form of self-fulfilment, as the capacity to realise one's 'true' nature, usually goes through creative labour and social interaction. Freedom ultimately means being free from the social evils that can blight human existence.

Positive freedom therefore contrasts sharply with negative freedom, as it recognises social advantage, and not simply the law and physical constraint, as an enemy of freedom. Rather than just state power becoming smaller as the way to freedom, positive freedom does suggest that liberties can be expanded through economic intervention. It does come close to identifying freedom with equality of opportunity in the view of classical liberals and the New Right, however, this principle of positive freedom is linked with the growth of the 'nanny state' which is increasingly becoming larger in our life time. Our own responsibilities and own interests

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