compose an essay addressing the question(s) it asks based on your reading of Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws. It is up to you to decide which aspect(s) of that topic you are going to focus on and which parts of the book will help you to compose the most insightful and compelling argument possible in the space assigned.
4. Does Montesquieu have a theory of justice? Of rights? How does he conceive of the relationship between power and justice?
Compose your essay such that the argument you intend to advance guides and organizes your paper as a whole, yielding a coherent, integrated, and compelling case. Do not simply provide a descriptive summary of material found in the text. This is an immense and intricate book. Interrogate it and challenge yourself in your attempt to figure something out regarding the ideas and arguments it contains. Do not provide an easy answer to something too straightforward or overly broad. Engage your critical thinking skills in examining the text and advance a reasoned position that takes meaning, significance, and/or persuasiveness into consideration, arguing for something that is interesting and not obvious. This is an assignment in text-based philosophical analysis; references to historical context or impact, as well as literary or cultural references, may be used to illustrate your understanding or enhance your argument but they should not serve as decisive evidence or represent the main focus of your essay. You may and should use the first person in presenting your arguments, but this assignment is not about your personal political opinions or convictions.
Essays will advance arguments based on an attentive reading of the primary source text and must be strongly supported with ample evidence drawn from the assigned translation (unless you are reading it in the original French). Use in-text parenthetical references [(book, chapter) or (page numbers); just be consistent throughout]. As quotations are not self-explanatory, it falls to you to explain the relevance of the quotations that you employ. Do not use excessive or long quotations to pad for length. Additional primary sources (e.g. Scripture, other philosophers’ writings, or other works by Montesquieu) may be used in a supplemental fashion only. Consulting the secondary literature is neither required nor recommended, but any outside materials used must be given full and proper references in footnotes (specifying pages, section numbers, or chapter & verse; author-date references are not appropriate) and a bibliography. No outside source may be reckoned authoritative—you must return to the original text and put anyone else’s interpretation to the test.
THIS SHOULD ALL BE BASED ON MONTESQUIEU’S THE SPIRIT OF THE LAWS, IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED THAT YOU GO OUTSIDE OF THIS READING, ALL IDEAS SHOULD BE YOUR OWN
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