Glossary of terms used on this site

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positive liberty

a term from the work of Isaiah Berlin (1909-97) which refers to the capacity to exercise choice and agency by virtue of having the power and resources to do so. It would normally involve some kind of external intervention to enable this to happen: for example, becoming literate or numerate increases one's capacity to act as one wishes, as does the acquisition of money or status. Negative liberty, on the other hand, merely means the absence of external restraint but this type of freedom may only be theoretical if one does not have the resources or ability to act as one would desire.