Do we often think deeply about the choices we make?
The philosopher Isaiah Berlin brings out examples of the stark reality of our choices in life which many of us may ignorantly be evading.
As a first example, he says there are two kinds of liberties – positive liberty and negative liberty.
Positive liberty is the freedom to do things: go where you want, when you want, with whom you want, etc.
Negative liberty is the freedom from things: freedom from fear, from hunger, from exploitation, etc.
Both these freedoms are undoubtedly good things. But people can be oblivious of, or do refuse to face, the truth about them. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other.
On the one hand, if you give everyone the freedom to do things like carry a gun, you take away someone else’s freedom from fear. If you give everyone freedom to make money however or whichever way they want, you take away some other person’s freedom from exploitation.
On the other hand, if you guarantee everyone freedom from things, like freedom from homelessness, then the government must take the responsibility of housing everyone or pay for everyone’s housing. That must mean higher taxes, and someone losing the freedom to spend all their money how they want.
It’s hard choice: if you want more of one kind of freedom, you have to have less of the other. But, think about it, how many people, in reality, want to face these hard choices?
Reference: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott.
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