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Reason, Development, and the Conflicts of Human Ends: Sir Isaiah Berlin's Vision of Politics
Robert A. Kocis
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 74, No. 1 (Mar., 1980), pp. 38-52
Published by: American Political Science Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1955645
Page Count: 15
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At the root of the conflict between Berlin and his critics is a fundamental disagreement over the possibility of certainty and over the relation of human ends to politics. Gerald MacCallum's formalist critique obscures the political question of whose values a free person is at liberty to pursue. Macpherson's attempt to defend positive liberty as not rationalistic is shown to fail because he (a) conflates liberty with its conditions and (b) assumes a rational pattern to human moral development. And Crick charges Berlin with ignoring politics, understood as active participation in the polis. Finally, Berlin's conception of politics as a form of human interaction aimed at creating the conditions of human dignity in a situation where we sincerely disagree over the ends of life is shown to be an effort to liberate us to live for our own purposes. Yet Berlin's defense of liberty is problematic because it is too skeptical; to overcome this difficulty, a non-teleological yet developmentalist account of human nature and a weakly hierarchical account of human values is suggested.
The American Political Science Review © 1980 American Political Science Association