Show Summary Details
Issues in Political Theory

Issues in Political Theory (4th edn)

Catriona McKinnon, Robert Jubb, and Patrick Tomlin
Page of

Printed from Oxford Politics Trove. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 03 June 2023

p. 252. Libertylocked

p. 252. Libertylocked

  • Ian Carter


This chapter examines the concept of liberty. There are different rival interpretations of liberty. These interpretations can be discussed in terms of a well-known distinction: that between negative and positive liberty. Negative liberty is the absence of something: normally, the absence of external obstacles imposed by other human agents. Positive liberty is the presence of something: the exercise of our choice-making capacities in ways that put us in control of our own lives. Much of the recent literature on liberty has focused on a new challenge to these conceptions of liberty. The challenge comes from thinkers inspired by the neo-roman or republican idea of liberty as the antithesis of slavery. Republicans define liberty as the absence of domination. Meanwhile, some libertarians, who hold that liberty is best realized through the protection of private property and contract, have argued that liberty is always limited by the pursuit of economic equality.

You do not currently have access to this chapter

Sign in

Please sign in to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription