Positive freedom has often been thought of as necessarily achieved through a collectivity. Perhaps the clearest case is that of Rousseau's theory of freedom, according to which individual freedom is achieved through participation in the process whereby one's community exercises collective control over its own affairs in accordance with the ‘general will’. Put in the simplest terms, one might say that a democratic society is a free society because it is a self-determined society, and that a member of that society is free to the extent that he or she participates in its democratic process. But there are also individualist applications of the concept of positive freedom. For example, it is sometimes said that a government should aim actively to create the conditions necessary for individuals to be self-sufficient or to achieve self-realization.
- The Social Contract:
Demarcates four different kinds of freedom that are relevant to politics, yet the nature of each, their relative importance, and their relationship to the social contract after which the work was named are all far from clear: natural freedom, civil freedom, democratic freedom and moral freedom (all in context of the social contract.)
The central topic of The Social Contract is "how people might construct a genuinely free political society" (ix) and it is plausible to hold that this is so given Rousseau's own famous formulation of the "problem" to which the social contract is the solution, which says that the members of the political community must "remain as free as before".
"each alienates all under the direction of the common benefit" as he succinctly puts it at one point and the freedoms that emerge are happy consequences of this.
To Rosseau, humanity does not leave the "general" state of nature (as opposed to the simpler "pure" state of nature),…