Liberty and Equality Political Science YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Liberty and Equality: Positive & Negative Liberty, Humanity | Political Science

Title: Liberty and Equality


  • The foundations for these beliefs are based upon the following:
    • the basic principles
      • life
      • liberty
      • property
    • the philosophical grounds for these principles
      • natural law (God՚s Law) and natural rights
      • utility

Positive and Negative Liberty

  • Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting or the fact of acting in such a way as to take control of one՚s life and realize one՚s fundamental purposes.
  • While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities.


In political discussion, the idea of equality is asserted in statements of fact that people are equal as well as in statements of principles or aims that people should be treated equally. The problem is that the idea, in both instances, can be interpreted too strongly or too weakly.

Common Humanity

  • The assertion of our community is certainly insufficient for the idea of equality but it is still substantial. It entails not just the recognition that we belong to the species homo sapiens, speak a language, use tools, live in societies and so on, but also the Realisation of other less obvious but important characteristics such as the capacity to feel pain (physical or otherwise) , affection, frustration and the like.
  • These second group of characteristics important for the idea of equality for there are and have been political arrangements that neglected these characteristics in the case of certain groups.
  • Article 14 - 18 guarantees equality to all persons, including citizens, corporations, and foreigners. Its provisions have come up for discussion in the Supreme Court in a number of cases


1. Ideas of equality and liberty as confined in the constitution of India?

2. The modern Definity of liberty poses a threat if defined in absolute terms?

3. Difference between equality and equity?