Berlin and Pettit: Can their accounts of liberalism be sustained when considering anti-terrorism laws?

Berlin and Pettit: Can their accounts of liberalism be sustained when considering anti-terrorism laws?

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Laws have the capacity to infringe civil liberties however they also provide a forum for its creation and development. For Berlin, his conception of liberty is based upon the idea of positive and negative freedoms. Liberty according to Berlin is viewed as freedom from interference; therefore laws which respect our freedoms are preferable as they allow for different paths of self-actualization. Pettit however considers liberty in terms of freedom from domination and considers the role laws and democracy can play in assuring individual freedoms. In addition to considering the respective approaches of Berlin and Pettit, their theories will also be considered in relation to terrorism. By considering their respective arguments in the context of terrorism, it becomes important to conceptualize laws not in terms of those which respect or interfere with our freedom, but rather how they are able to balance the competing interests of security and individual freedoms.

Considering an Appropriate Framework

There are a variety of traditions which examine the relationship between the rule of law and freedom, which include Berlin’s positive and negative liberty, Republican Liberalism and concept of freedom as a Triadic relationship . Historically, liberalism has been viewed as an attempt to limit state power to preserve individual freedoms however this remains an oversimplification of liberal thought. Whilst liberal rights can be understood as the freedom to pursue individual interests, they are best considered the product of a strong liberal state and the rule of law. Therefore, when considering laws which respect or interfere with our freedoms, it may be problematic to consider them in terms of simple binaries as different laws affect...


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