Spirit of the Laws (Montesquieu)

3,644 views

Published on

Slides on Montesquieu's notion of the Spirit of the Laws for an undergraduate course in Political Thought that I taught between 2003-2005.

0 Comments
3 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
3,644
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
156
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
85
Comments
0
Likes
3
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Spirit of the Laws (Montesquieu)

  1. 1. the spirit of the laws
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Montesquieu </li></ul><ul><li>Law </li></ul><ul><li>Essential aspects of democracy </li></ul><ul><li>Liberty </li></ul><ul><li>Separation of powers (within and between states) </li></ul><ul><li>Religious tolerance </li></ul>
  3. 3. Montesquieu (1689-1755) <ul><li>Classically educated French nobleman </li></ul><ul><li>Satirized western culture and the Roman Catholic Church </li></ul><ul><li>Avid follower of John Locke </li></ul><ul><li>Ingratiated himself with the English high court </li></ul>
  4. 4. Law <ul><li>Laws arise when individuals enter into societies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Law of nations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Political law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Civil law </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Laws are simply specific expressions of human reason </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Spirit of Laws <ul><li>The “spirit of laws” consists in the relationships of the laws to various objects </li></ul><ul><li>To understand a law, it is necessary to look up the specific circumstances that surround it </li></ul><ul><li>Laws are relative (contextual) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Essentials of Democracy <ul><li>Laws that bestow and regulate the right to suffrage </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The people are competent enough to decide who to represent them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In a democracy, suffrage should be conducted publicly and by lot </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Subsidiarity </li></ul>
  7. 7. Essentials of Democracy <ul><li>Direct or indirect choice of legislators </li></ul><ul><li>The division of the populace into effective electoral districts </li></ul><ul><li>A fixed number of positions in the public assemblies </li></ul><ul><li>Enactment of laws by the people </li></ul>
  8. 8. Essentials of Democracy <ul><li>Intrigue </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeps the people abreast of public affairs (combats apathy) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Moderate equality </li></ul><ul><li>Virtue </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Precisely because the authors of the law will be subjected to it </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. On Liberty <ul><li>“…liberty can consist only in the power of doing what we ought to will, and in not being constrained to do what we ought not to will” </li></ul><ul><li>- Montesquieu </li></ul>
  10. 10. On Liberty <ul><li>Liberty does not consist in doing whatever a person wants </li></ul><ul><li>It consists in doing what one ought to do </li></ul><ul><li>“Liberty is a right of doing whatever the laws permit” </li></ul><ul><li>Liberty may only exist where there is no abuse of power </li></ul>
  11. 11. On Checks and Balances <ul><li>Between States </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Confederacy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Within States </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“Mixed Constitution” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. English government </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Religious Tolerance <ul><li>Montesquieu was not a strict advocate of the separation of Church and State </li></ul><ul><li>He did advocate that permitting certain religions should be accompanied by enforcing tolerance among them </li></ul>

×