Ideas of Baron de Montesquieu, by Theme

[French, 1689 - 1755, Wealthy freelance writer.]

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22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention
True goodness is political, and consists of love of and submission to the laws
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / b. The natural life
Primitive people would be too vulnerable and timid to attack anyone, so peace would reign
Men do not desire to subjugate one another; domination is a complex and advanced idea
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / c. A unified people
People are drawn into society by needs, shared fears, pleasure, and knowledge
People are guided by a multitude of influences, from which the spirit of a nation emerges
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 5. Original Position / b. Veil of ignorance
The rich would never submit to a lottery deciding which part of their society should be slaves
25. Society / B. The State / 1. Purpose of a State
All states aim at preservation, and then have distinctive individual purposes
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / a. Autocracy
The natural power of a father suggests rule by one person, but that authority can be spread
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / b. Monarchy
Monarchs must not just have links to the people; they need a body which maintains the laws
Ambition is good in a monarchy, because the monarch can always restrain it
Monarchies can act more quickly, because one person is in charge
In monarchies, men's actions are judged by their grand appearance, not their virtues
In a monarchy, the nobility must be hereditary, to bind them together
The nobility are an indispensable part of a monarchy
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / c. Despotism
Despots are always lazy and ignorant, so they always delegate their power to a vizier
Despotism and honour are incompatible, because honour scorns his power, and lives by rules
A despot's agents must be given power, so they inevitably become corrupt
Tyranny is either real violence, or the imposition of unpopular legislation
The will of a despot is an enigma, so magistrates can only follow their own will
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / d. Elites
If the nobility is numerous, the senate is the artistocracy, and the nobles are a democracy
Aristocracy is democratic if they resemble the people, but not if they resemble the monarch
Great inequality between aristocrats and the rest is bad - and also among aristocrats themselves
25. Society / B. The State / 6. Government / a. Government
If a government is to be preserved, it must first be loved
A government has a legislature, an international executive, and a domestic executive
25. Society / B. The State / 6. Government / b. Legislature
The judiciary must be separate from the legislature, to avoid arbitrary power
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Religion in Society
The clergy are essential to a monarchy, but dangerous in a republic
Religion has the most influence in despotic states, and reinforces veneration for the ruler
Religion can support the state when the law fails to do so
French slavery was accepted because it was the best method of religious conversion
25. Society / B. The State / 9. Population / a. State population
In a large republic there is too much wealth for individuals to manage it
In small republics citizens identify with the public good, and abuses are fewer
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / a. Slavery
The demand for slavery is just the masters' demand for luxury
Slaves are not members of the society, so no law can forbid them to run away
Slavery is entirely bad; the master abandons the virtues, and they are pointless in the slave
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / c. Free speech
Freedom of speech and writing, within the law, is essential to preserve liberty
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / e. Freedom of lifestyle
Freedom in society is ability to do what is right, and not having to do what is wrong
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 3. Social Equality / a. Grounds of equality
Equality is not command by everyone or no one, but command and obedience among equals
No one even thinks of equality in monarchies and despotism; they all want superiority
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 3. Social Equality / b. Political equality
Democracy is corrupted by lack of equality, or by extreme equality (between rulers and ruled)
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 3. Social Equality / d. Economic equality
Some equality can be achieved by social categories, combined with taxes and poor relief
Democracies may sometimes need to restrict equality
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Right to Punish / a. Right to punish
The death penalty is permissible, because its victims enjoyed the protection of that law
If religion teaches determinism, penalties must be severe; if free will, then that is different
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy
If deputies represent people, they are accountable, but less so if they represent places
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / b. Consultation
The fundamental laws of a democracy decide who can vote
It is basic to a democracy that the people themselves must name their ministers
Voting should be public, so the lower classes can be influenced by the example of notable people
All citizens (apart from the very humble poor) should choose their representatives
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / c. Direct democracy
A democratic assembly must have a fixed number, to see whether everyone has spoken
In a democracy the people should manage themselves, and only delegate what they can't do
25. Society / E. State Functions / 1. The Law / b. Natural law
Prior to positive laws there is natural equity, of obedience, gratitude, dependence and merit
Sensation gives animals natural laws, but knowledge can make them break them
25. Society / E. State Functions / 4. Education / b. Aims of education
In monarchies education ennobles people, and in despotisms it debases them
25. Society / E. State Functions / 4. Education / c. Teaching
Teaching is the best practice of the general virtue that leads us to love everyone
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. War
The only right victors have over captives is the protection of the former
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / c. Essence and laws
Laws are the necessary relations that derive from the nature of things