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Ch.-L. de Secondat Montesquieu on Freedom - Dictionary of Arguments

Höffe I 261
Freedom/Montesquieu/Höffe: [Montesquieu] determines (...) political freedom first negatively, then positively(1). It does not mean "that one can do what one wants", rather it consists in the "right to do everything that the laws permit"(2). Now an "eternal experience ... teaches that every person who has power is driven to abuse it"(3). Because of
Höffe I 262
this always threatening danger of abuse all power requires - so Montesquieu's much-cited principle of state ethics - a counter-power: "le pouvoir arrate le pouvoir", "power brakes" or "inhibits power".
Separation of powers: The more detailed explanations extend Locke's division of powers to include the judiciary, the administration of justice. Montesquieu does not envisage any separate power for foreign policy, thus setting Locke's federalists aside and influencing modern state constitutions with this doctrine of three public powers - legislation, executive power and jurisdiction. >State/Montesquieu.


1. Montesquieu, On the spirit of the laws that shape political freedom and their relation to the Constitution (De l'Esprit des lois, 1748).
2. Ibid., Chap. 3
3. Ibid., Chap. 4


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Monte I
Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
De l’esprit des lois, Paris 1748
German Edition:
Vom Geist der Gesetze Stuttgart 2011

Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-06-18
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