As Berlin showed, negative and positive liberty are not merely twodistinct kinds of liberty; they can be seen as rival, incompatibleinterpretations of a single political ideal. Since few people claim tobe against liberty, the way this term is interpreted and defined canhave important political implications. Political tends to presuppose a negative definition of liberty: liberalsgenerally claim that if one favors individual liberty one should placestrong limitations on the activities of the state. Critics ofliberalism often contest this implication by contesting the negativedefinition of liberty: they argue that the pursuit of libertyunderstood as self-realization or as self-determination (whether ofthe individual or of the collectivity) can require state interventionof a kind not normally allowed by liberals.


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