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Libearalism and its Critics essay 1

Libearalism and its Critics essay 1 - kind of liberty It...

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Commerce: A double-edged Sword A commercial republic is a double-edged sword. It is both the problem and the solution. Yet if one undergoes a Montesquieuian analysis of commercial republics and the abandonment of certain Lockean principles that follow from it, any problems that arise can be solved. Specifically, Montesquieu solves the problem of liberalism through abandoning the self-interest and liberty that Locke posits. Montesquieu’s “The Spirit of the Laws” arrives at a liberalism that is positively inclined to modern commerce but avoids Locke’s negative implications. Locke’s self-interest is replaced by “political virtue” and Locke’s strict adherence to liberty is replaced with a more flexible, moderate “political liberty.” The liberty that flourishes in a Montesquieuian commercial republic is a special
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Unformatted text preview: kind of liberty. It should not be confused with a Lockean conception of liberty, or the freedom to do whatever one wants. Critics point to the self-interestedness, asociality, and inflexibility inherent in Locke’s doctrine. They feel the teaching is too harsh, too “reductionist,” too “atomistic”—that it focuses on the individual in a way that makes individualism and the freedom that goes along with it no longer desirable. These critics are right. If individuals are always asocial and self-interested, if their actions are always determined by absolute and unchanging laws—if the modern scientific picture is simply true—what does Locke mean by freedom? Do liberty and morality truly have a place in Lockean liberalism? The conception of the state of nature Montesquieu differs extremely from that of Locke....
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