GOVT2112 Lecture 6: WK 6 MontesquieuExam
SchoolUniversity of Sydney
DepartmentGovernment and International Relations
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What are the three main branches of government according to Montesquieu?
-Of the Constitution of England.
In every government there are three sorts of power: the
legislative; the executive in respect to things dependent on the law of nations; and the executive
in regard to matters that depend on the civil law and judiciary power
In what does political liberty consist?
-Some have taken it as a means of deposing a person on whom they had conferred a tyrannical
authority; others for the power of choosing a superior whom they are obliged to obey; others for
the right of bearing arms, and of being thereby enabled to use violence; others, in fine, for the
privilege of being governed by a native of their own country, or by their own laws
-It is true that in democracies the people seem to act as they please; but political liberty does not
consist in an unlimited freedom. In governments, that is, in societies directed by laws, 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.
-The political liberty of the subject is a tranquillity of mind arising from the opinion each person
has of his safety. In order to have this liberty, it is requisite the government be so constituted as
one man need not be afraid of another
-When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of
magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or
senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.
-Again, there is no liberty, if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and
executive. Were it joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed
to arbitrary control; for the judge would be then the legislator. Were it joined to the executive
power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression.
What are the conditions of political liberty?
-Political liberty is to be found only in moderate governments; and even in these it is not always
found. It is there only when there is no abuse of power. Every man invested with power is apt to
abuse it- power should be a check to power. A government may be so constituted, as no man
shall be compelled to do things to which the law does not oblige him, nor forced to abstain from
things which the law permits.
Why did Montesquieu think democracy was problematic?
-Thus they have all applied the name of liberty to the government most suitable to their own
customs and inclinations: and as in republics the people have not so constant and so present a
view of the causes of their misery, and as the magistrates seem to act only in conformity to the
laws, hence liberty is generally said to reside in republics, and to be banished from monarchies.
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In fine, as in democracies the people seem to act almost as they please, this sort of government
has been deemed the most free, and the power of the people has been confounded with their
-Democratic and aristocratic states are not in their own nature free.
Why did Montesquieu assign a Germanic origin to English government?
Why ought parliament not be able to convene itself?
Federalist Papers 10, 47, 49, 51, and 73
What did Madison understand by faction and why was it dangerous?
-a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united
and actuated by some common impulse of passion or of interest, adverse to the rights of other
citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community
What are some of the causes of faction and which is the most important?
-two methods of curing: by removing its causes or controlling its effects
-removing the causes of faction: by destroying liberty, or giving its citizens the same opinions,
the same passions and the same interests, same opinions
-sown in the nature of man- human nature to fall into animosities
-causes cannot be removed but its effects can be controlled
Why could a republican system help to avoid faction
-the protection of these faculties is the object of gov- causes of fraction
-no man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause-bc of his bias opinion
How does a republic differ from a democracy?
-a pure democracy, by which I mean, a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who
assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of
-A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of repre- sentation takes place,
opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.
-The two great points of difference, between a democracy and a republic, are, first, the
delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest;
secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may
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