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date: 07 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Our understanding of the freedom advanced by the political thinkers of the Enlightenment has long been dominated by two conceptual categories, negative and positive liberty. Yet this convenient dichotomy obscures appreciation of the ways in which these two concepts of liberty can and often do work together. This chapter aims to redress this by examining the conception of freedom set forth by three key Enlightenment thinkers: Adam Smith, Rousseau, and Kant. It argues that their concept of “moral” or “inner” freedom suggests an important way in which positive liberty can promote ends traditionally associated with negative liberty. Specifically, these philosophers regard moral freedom as inextricable from political freedom insofar as moral freedom enables us to shoulder the burdens of political freedom. Thus their concept of freedom offers good reasons not only to question the separation between positive and negative freedom, but to regard moral freedom as indispensable to political freedom.

Keywords: Enlightenment, freedom, liberty, Adam Smith, Rousseau, Kant, moral freedom, inner freedom, positive liberty, negative liberty

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