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The perils of the freedom of choice - Not Consumed
The definition of freedom as a triadic relation was first put forwardin the seminal work of Felix Oppenheim in the 1950s and 60s. Oppenheimsaw that an important meaning of ‘freedom’ in the contextof political and social philosophy was as a relation between twoagents and a particular (impeded or unimpeded) action. Thisinterpretation of freedom remained, however, what Berlin would call anegative one. What MacCallum did was to generalize this triadicstructure so that it would cover all possible claims about freedom,whether of the negative or the positive variety. In MacCallum'sframework, unlike in Oppenheim's, the interpretation of each of thethree variables is left open. In other words, MacCallum's position isa meta-theoretical one: his is a theory about the differences betweentheorists of freedom.
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Thus, those whom Berlin places in the negative camp typically conceiveof the agent as having the same extension as that which it isgenerally given in ordinary discourse: they tend to think of the agentas an individual human being and as including all of the empiricalbeliefs and desires of that individual. Those in the so-calledpositive camp, on the other hand, often depart from the ordinarynotion, in one sense imagining the agent as more extensive than in theordinary notion, and in another sense imagining it as less extensive:they think of the agent as having a greater extension than in ordinarydiscourse in cases where they identify the agent's true desires andaims with those of some collectivity of which she is a member; andthey think of the agent as having a lesser extension than in ordinarydiscourse in cases where they identify the true agent with only asubset of her empirical beliefs and desires — i.e., with thosethat are rational, authentic or virtuous. Secondly, those in Berlin'spositive camp tend to take a wider view of what counts as a constrainton freedom than those in his negative camp: the set of relevantobstacles is more extensive for the former than for the latter, sincenegative theorists tend to count only external obstacles asconstraints on freedom, whereas positive theorists also allow that onemay be constrained by internal factors, such as irrational desires,fears or ignorance. And thirdly, those in Berlin's positive camp tendto take a narrower view of what counts as a purpose one can be free tofulfill. The set of relevant purposes is less extensive for them thanfor the negative theorists, for we have seen that they tend torestrict the relevant set of actions or states to those that arerational, authentic or virtuous, whereas those in the negative camptend to extend this variable so as to cover any action or state theagent might desire.