Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 May 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter on Isaiah Berlin’s Four Essays on Liberty centers on the most famous piece in it, “Two Concepts of Liberty.” As a matter of genre, it is an essay in conceptual analysis. Because liberty is a historically inflected concept, it is also an essay in the history of ideas. The chapter argues that Berlin was a “Cold War liberal” only in the limited sense that he campaigned against all doctrines that licensed the sacrifice of real individuals on the altar of impersonal entities such as the proletariat or the nation, and Soviet Communism was a salient case both because of the Cold War and Berlin’s own Russian origins. Individuals have an inviolability that governments of any stripe must not infringe. That is the core of negative liberty. Positively, Berlin’s faith was that unimpeded, individuals with adequate resources would spontaneously lead varied and vivid existences.

Keywords: Isaiah Berlin, liberty, Cold War liberalism, liberalism, negative liberty

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.