Montesquieu's Liberty: Death, Security, and the Liberal Regime in The Spirit of the Laws 公开

O'Toole, Leo Patrick (2011)

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Broadly speaking, this paper tackles the questions "What is liberty?" and "Is liberty good? And if so, why?" Considering the innumerable understandings and defenses of liberty, this paper limits its focus to Montesquieu's account of liberty in The Spirit of the Laws. To summarize, liberty is roughly equivalent to security and comes into being through the separation of powers, the reformation of the criminal code, and the growth of commerce. The need for security is rooted in man's primal fear of death: Montesquieu's state of nature demonstrates that man is unique among the animals in his foreknowledge of death and the fear that results from this foreknowledge. Death inspires man at his core more than any other passion, and man's fixation on death provides a means by which one can rank regimes. In conclusion, liberty, understood as security, is good in that it addresses man's defining passion, the fear of his own death; that said, liberty cannot resolve the problem of death, as the solution to this problem lies beyond the reach of politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
What is Liberty? 2
The State of Nature and Man 9
Liberty Through the Constitution: The Separation of Powers 20
Liberty in its Relation with the Citizen 26
Commerce as the Guarantor of Liberal Mores 32
England and the Mores that Issue from the Liberal Regime 44
Alternative Regimes 52
The Role of Religion in the Liberal State 61
Conclusion 65
Works Cited 67

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