Two Concepts of Liberty

Beata Polanowska-Sygulska

The article offers a thorough presentation of Isaiah Berlin’s conception of freedom, based on the recognition of its metadoctrinal character (such an interpretation had been fully accepted by Berlin). Th e reconstruction is backed up with many references to the author’s correspondence and conversations with Berlin. It consists, among other things, of: investigation of the intellectual sources of Berlin’s liberalism, analysis of his famous conceptual diff erentiation between negative and positive freedom (supplemented by a characteristics of the so-called basic freedom developed in correspondence), discussion of the masterly critique of rationalist metaphysics and identifi cation of the main tenet of Two Concepts of Liberty, that is a warning against manipulation of the concept of freedom. Research into Berlin’s doctrine of freedom is carried out in a broad polemical context. A special stress is put on the surprising relevance of the allegedly outdated Berlin’s reflection and also on the significance of the pluralist movement initiated by him within  the liberal tradition.


Keywords: liberalism · negative freedom · positive freedom · ethical pluralism · rationalist metaphysics

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