Liberty: Incorporating Four Essays on Liberty: Isaiah Berlin ...

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Four Essays on Liberty: Isaiah Berlin ...

One of the main features of Berlin’s account of pluralism is theemphasis placed on the act of choosing between values. Pluralism holdsthat, in many cases, there is no single right answer. Berlin used thisas an argument for the importance of liberty—or, perhaps moreprecisely, an argument against the restriction of liberty in order toimpose the ‘right’ solution by force. Berlin also made alarger argument about making choices. Pluralism involves conflicts,and thus choices, not only between particular values in individualcases, but between ways of life. While Berlin seems to suggest thatindividuals have certain inherent traits—an individual nature,or character, which cannot be wholly altered or obscured—he alsoinsisted that they make decisions about who they will be and what theywill do. Choice is thus both an expression of an individualpersonality, and part of what makes that personality; it is essentialto the human self.

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Liberty: Incorporating Four Essays on Liberty pdf by Isaiah ...

Isaiah Berlin (1909–97) was a British philosopher, historian ofideas, political theorist, educator and essayist. For much of his lifehe was renowned for his conversational brilliance, his defence ofliberalism, his attacks on political extremism and intellectualfanaticism, and his accessible, coruscating writings on the history ofideas. His essay Two Concepts of Liberty (1958) contributedto a revival of interest in political theory in the English-speakingworld, and remains one of the most influential and widely discussedtexts in that field: admirers and critics agree that Berlin’sdistinction between positive and negative liberty remains, for betteror worse, a basic starting-point for theoretical discussions of themeaning and value of political freedom. Late in his life, the greateravailability of Berlin’s numerous essays began to provoke increasingscholarly interest in his work, and particularly in the idea of valuepluralism; that Berlin’s articulation of value pluralism contains manyambiguities and even obscurities has only encouraged further work onthe subject by other philosophers.

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To illustrate: at the constitutional (second) and legislative (third)stages, the parties specify basic liberties such as “freedom ofthought” into more particular rights, like the right to freepolitical speech. The right to political speech is itself then furtherspecified as the right to criticize the government, the rightsprotecting the press from political interference, and so on. Throughthe four-stage sequence, the parties also adjust the basic libertiesto fit with one another and with other values, always aiming for anoverall scheme of liberties that will best enable citizens to developand exercise their two moral powers and pursue their determinateconceptions of the good. (PL, 289–371)

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