chapter  4
51 Pages

Freedom and society

WithHans Blokland

In an influential essay dating from 1967 the American political philosopher Gerald MacCallum rejects the distinction, made by Isaiah Berlin among others, between positive and negative freedom. He calls this distinction a misunderstanding which only diverts attention from the real differences of opinion on political freedom. The real differences of opinion in the freedom debate have their origins, according to MacCallum, not in the existence of different forms or concepts of freedom, but in deviating ideas about what can be regarded as actors, goals and all restrictions. Likewise, Steven Lukes claims that there is only one concept of freedom: freedom consists of the degree to which an actor can realize his objectives unimpeded by any constraints. The naturalness with which Parent considers his examples to be exclusively applicable to individual freedom, and makes a distinction between ‘political’ and ‘personal’ freedom, and thus considers his own normative principles to be generally valid, is therefore remarkable.