Rousseau, Law and the Sovereignty of the People by Ethan Putterman

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By Ethan Putterman

Including Plato's Republic, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social agreement is thought of as some of the most unique examples of utopian political engineering within the background of principles. just like the Republic, Rousseau's masterwork is best recognized at the present time for its author's idiosyncratic view of political justice than its classes on lawmaking or governance in any concrete experience. hard this universal view, Rousseau, legislation and the Sovereignty of the folk examines the Genevan's contributions as a legislator and builder of associations, bearing on his significant rules to matters and debates in twenty-first century political technology. Ethan Putterman explores how Rousseau's simply nation would really function, investigating how legislation will be drafted, ratified and achieved, arguing that the speculation of the Social agreement is extra pragmatic and populist than many students think this present day.

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Rousseau, Law and the Sovereignty of the People

Including Plato's Republic, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social agreement is considered the most unique examples of utopian political engineering within the heritage of rules. just like the Republic, Rousseau's masterwork is healthier identified this day for its author's idiosyncratic view of political justice than its classes on lawmaking or governance in any concrete experience.

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Crucially, at any time a citizenry may convene an emergency assembly to bring down a government that foisted bad regulations upon it despite its inability to strike down any individual decree formally. According to Rousseau, the sovereign assembly is legally barred from overruling or overturning any particular act of government because such interference is illegitimate and beyond its competency for wholly general matters. Despite this legal impediment he also believes that the dominion of the people over their servants should be imposing or even fanglike in its silent control, terminally suspended like a sword of Damocles.

This 35 36 Rousseau, Law and the Sovereignty of the People In this passage, opinion’s vulnerability to “unforeseen circumstances” is said to give it a randomness, fickleness or variability that makes it unpredictable. Persons “drift from whim to whim” with their “tastes being constantly enslaved to opinion” (JNH, II:xvii, 209/255) above all else. In the Reveries, the Genevan attributes the cause of this to man’s natural passions transmogrified by contemporÂ� ary society into amour-propre and prejudice, for the judgments of the public are quite often equitable.

18 Similar to Hugo Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf and other modern natural rights theorists, Rousseau does not believe that obedience to natural law is ever voluntary. Natural law will never be commonly or routinely obeyed by individuals, as Diderot wrongly asserts,19 because without the threat of the sword men’s passions are thwarting. In the absence of a sufficient enforcement mechanism those persons who would voluntarily obey natural law render themselves vulnerable to those who would not and, owing to this contradiction, the law cannot be logically binding.

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