By Raf Geenens, Helena Rosenblatt
There's a permanent assumption that the French have by no means been and may by no means be liberal. as with any clichés, this includes a grain of fact, however it additionally overlooks an immense university of proposal that has been a continuing presence in French highbrow and political tradition for almost 3 centuries: French political liberalism. during this collaborative quantity, a wonderful workforce of philosophers, political theorists and highbrow historians discover this unjustly missed culture. The chapters study the character and specialty of French liberalism, supplying a complete therapy of significant subject matters together with French liberalism's dating with republicanism, Protestantism, utilitarianism and the human rights culture. person chapters are dedicated to Montesquieu, Tocqueville, Aron, Lefort and Gauchet, in addition to to a few lesser recognized, but very important thinkers, together with a number of political economists and French-style 'neoliberals'. French Liberalism from Montesquieu to the current Day is vital interpreting for all these drawn to the background of political suggestion.
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Additional resources for French Liberalism from Montesquieu to the Present Day
The criteria of reliable knowledge which came to be defined by Locke and Hume made observable regularities or uniformities of behaviour the test. True to its original inspiration – the natural sciences – empiricist philosophy insisted on verification as the test of ‘true’ knowledge. But that empiricist test for knowledge created a wholly new problem of social explanation. In retrospect, we can see that what the first empiricists did was, in effect, to collapse the concept of ‘rules’ into that of empirical laws.
3 In a remnant of the wars of religion, the Girondins, accused of ‘federalism’, were pursued and eliminated. Although historians have today disproved the charges levelled against them, it has become commonplace in the press and in French political circles to talk of a decentralizing ‘Girondin spirit’. In fact, over the course of a campaign in which each faction tried to eliminate the other, the Gironde fought against the attribution of influential posts to the Montagnards in Paris. On this tenacious myth, see my study ‘Les Girondins: un conflit véritable, une 38 Luc i e n J au m e overhaul the state.
That new concern with the devolution of power and authority – with countering the trend towards centralization – became the badge of the French liberals. It shaped their discussions of the concept of liberty. Concerned with the changing structure of society, they found the empiricist concept of liberty inadequate. In their view, that negative or physicalist concept of liberty (defined as the absence of impediment or constraint) was not very helpful in a social context – that is, a context of rule-governed action.