Short note on negative institutions


Negative institutions are institutions that constrain human behaviour by imposing certain mandatory conduct (see below). By oposition, positive institutions give people the freedom to choose between right and wrong actions. There’s no good without evil, or right without wrong. Without the power to choose our actions are neither good nor bad: are empty. The greatest danger of negative institutions is the notion that public good is greater and more important than private good and thus private actions should be limited. As said below, some negative institutions are needed and do promote the expansion of human capabilites; however, (1) is it possible to exist good without choice? a citizen that promotes public welfare just because such behaviour is mandatory or institutionalized is choosing to do right actions and act with responsability or is he acting like a robot without the option of choosing to do wrong? and (2) the notion of a subjective greater good is one of the most dangerous socio-economic ideas and can easily be misused – think about the freedom-security trade-off: how much liberty are you willing to sacrifice to obtain greater security?

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