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Durham University

School of Government & International Affairs

News

 

Rethinking Positive and Negative Liberty

(15 May 2020)

Maria Dimova-Cookson's new book Rethinking Positive and Negative Liberty (Routledge, 2019) offers an analysis of the distinction between positive and negative freedom building on the work of Constant, Green and Berlin.

Maria proposes a new reading of this distinction for the twenty-first century. She defends the idea that freedom is a dynamic interaction between two inseparable, yet sometimes fundamentally, opposed positive and negative concepts – the yin and yang of freedom. Positive freedom is achieved when one succeeds in doing what is right, while negative freedom is achieved when one is able to advance one’s wellbeing. In an environment of culture wars, resurging populism and challenge to progressive liberal values, theorizing freedom in negative and positive terms can help us better understand the political dilemmas we face and point the way forward.

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