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Berlin, Isaiah

  1. Charles Blattberg

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee592

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Blattberg, C. 2013. Berlin, Isaiah. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

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Regarded by many as a leading thinker of the twentieth century, Isaiah Berlin (1909–97) was an Oxford philosopher who specialized in the history of ideas, the philosophy of history, and moral and political philosophy. As a child he witnessed a scene of brutality during the Russian Revolution that had a great impact upon him, leaving him with a life-long wariness toward the potential of ideologies such as communism to lead people to commit great cruelties; indeed, Berlin was later to become an important “Cold War liberal.” With respect to ethics, he is chiefly of interest for his doctrine of value pluralism and the related account of liberty as presented in his famous 1958 essay, “Two Concepts of Liberty” (Berlin 2002). How the two are related has been a matter of considerable controversy.


  • Aristotle;
  • history of philosophy;
  • metaethics;
  • politics;
  • Williams, Bernard;
  • liberalism;
  • liberty;
  • pluralism;
  • practical reason;
  • relativism